An entrepreneur from an early age, he opened his own estate agency at the age of 25, having graduated in estate management, a qualification that very few people had at that time. He went on to qualify as a Chartered Surveyor and became an expert in property.
In his 30s, Eric was accepted on to the board of the Jewish Welfare Board (JWB), which founded what is now known as jLiving in 1960, although jLiving has gone through a couple of name changes over the years. The JWB was created as a housing provider to take over providing affordable housing in place of council housing.
At that time, there were housing associations springing up everywhere but the JWB couldn’t be a housing association itself, so it created one: the JBG Housing Society. Alf Tankel was the Chairman and ran the two organisations which continued to work well alongside each other, until the government decreed that they needed to be separate, so the JBG Housing Society became independent and was no longer allowed to have the same officers as the Jewish Welfare Board.
The Jewish Welfare Board then went on to amalgamate with the Jewish Blind Society. Eric was on the committee that negotiated the merger of the two to become Jewish Care and became a Board Member for Jewish Care.
After a while though, he felt that he had become just one of a number of people and preferred to be in a role where he could be creative and make a difference, so he left. He was keen to chair the JBG Housing Society after Alf Tankel had left, but instead he was made Chairman of the committee that ran the Society.
Then a sudden change in circumstances altered everything for him: the Chairman that had been elected at the JBG Housing Society suddenly passed away and Eric found himself elected Chairman. Having started his career in estate agency and then as a chartered surveyor, his role was on the property rather than the welfare side.
After a few years, Melvyn Carlo, who was then Chairman of Jewish Care, and Fred Worms who was Chairman of the B’nai B’rith Housing Society, discussed merging the two organisations. The merger took place and Eric took over as Chairman of the new organisation, Bnai Brith JBG which later became Jewish Community Housing Association.
When the two organisations merged, there were charities set up that were already associated with the JBG and with B’nai B’rith, so the two sets of trustees also amalgamated and Eric then became Chairman of the JBG Housing Trust, a charity established in 1988 to provide assistance, housing and amenities for Jewish people in need. Under its rules, the Trust can help organisations as well as individuals. In the past, Trustees have agreed on grants to offset the building costs of sheltered housing blocks and have also authorised payments for facilities within the blocks that contribute to a secure and comfortable life for jLiving tenants. The Trust also funds jLiving’s Welfare Officer service. Although administered from the same head office, JBG Housing Trust is a separate entity from jLiving.
The support provided by the charity enables tenants to receive additional support from the Welfare Officer thus ensuring that all tenants and leaseholders can access and receive all the benefits to which they are entitled. The charity has also been instrumental in funding the communal wi-fi at all jLiving schemes, TVs, the digiboards in the reception areas of each scheme, outings for the residents and the building of succahs and greenhouses.
Eric has many other strings to his bow. He is also an academic, having published a number of major text books on valuations. He has also been a lecturer for 14 years at what was the North East London Polytechnic (now the University of East London). As an expert Chartered Surveyor, his books on valuations became the definitive manuals for chartered surveyors across the country. They have been reprinted so many times that they are now on their 12th editions!
Eric is Director of Valuations at Chesterton Humberts. He is married with two children and is the very proud grandfather of six grandsons. He lives in Golders Green where he remains a strong supporter of the Harmony Close Shul and of course the Association.