Adah Kay – selected biography


Professional life

Adah was an anthropologist, an urban planner and a lifelong activist. Her career spanned academic teaching, research and evaluation, working in local authorities and in the non-profit and charity sector.  She was Honorary Professor at the Cass Business School at City University, where she helped establish the Centre for Charity Effectiveness.

Adah had diverse skills and interests, from project management and political activism, to writing plays, producing theatre and playing music.

Personal life

Born in Cambridge to Russian parents, Adah described herself as a British Jew, brought up in a Zionist tradition, who had become an anti-Zionist. She grew up and lived most of her life in North West London. The family home in Camden, was an acclaimed architectural masterpiece as well as a social hub for left wing social activists for over four decades.

She attended South Hampstead School for Girls and earned a BSc in Sociology and from Bristol University and a Masters in Planning from the LSE.


She married architect Tom Kay and they had two sons, Finn and Leo, and two grandchildren: Ellen and Robert.

Passionately committed to social justice, she and Tom, were very politically engaged in politics, particularly around housing and planning issues. In the 1970s they helped to establish Camden Housing Action, which helped to legalise squatting, and the Camden Law Centres, which helped tenants take on their landlords in legal disputes.

They were also vocal opponents of Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestine.

In 2002 Adah and Tom spent a year in Ramallah, and then visited regularly for long periods, volunteering and working in the West Bank. Tom taught in the department of architectural engineering while Adah immersed herself in research and writing.

When Tom died in 2007, Adah continued to focus on human rights issues from her home in London. Despite being diagnosed with multiple myeloma late in 2010, Adah continued to focus her depleted energy on the organizations and causes she was passionate about, which included social activism, academic and cultural production.



Stolen Youth: The Politics of Israel’s Detention of Palestinian Children, Pluto Press


Unfree in Palestine: Registration, Documentation and Movement Restriction, Pluto Press




Welcome to Ramallah (co-written with Sonia Linden), performed at the Arcola Theatre in London and the Theatre Royal in York, 2008


Who do we think we are? (Executive Director) – a play with a cast of older actors, which performed in 2014 at the Southwark Playhouse



Links to obituaries from JFJFP, Fobzu