Friday, 6 November 2009

What a Time to Be A Jew

Several weeks ago I was invited to a reception at Number 10 Downing Street where Sarah Brown helped launched the UJIA ‘myfund’ initiative. Myfund matches funds teens, and especially those celebrating a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, give to charity. It helps train budding philanthropists to understand their obligation to those less fortunate and trains them to understand Jewish approaches to giving. At the launch a gaggle of Rabbis wandered around the State Rooms and suggested how various items of silverware could be put to use around a Shabbat table.


This week I was invited to Windsor Castle for a conference on religion and the environment hosted by Prince Philip and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. At the core of the conference is a document, or series of documents produced by leaders of a vast range of different religions, from Chinese Buddhists to American Evangelicals talking about how they are working, from a religious perspective to protect and save the environment. It’s an attempt by religious communities to strengthen the hand of the UN in the run up to Copenhagen.


The Jewish response was led by Hazon founder Nigel Savage working with Rabbi Yedidya (Julian) Sinclair  and another born-British now abroad, Michael Kagan. Hazon is the pre-eminent American Jewish Environmental organisation. Also among Jewish delegates were Nomi Tzur, Deputy Mayor for Jerusalem, Rabbi Michael Melchior (our most recent Jacobs Memorial lecturer) and Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi founding father of eco-kashrut (who will be joining us on Sunday). Information about the Jewish Climate Campaign is here

And I will be sharing some more observations on Shabbat.


I’m struggling to think of another time in Jewish history where Jewish leaders have been welcomed at the top tables of our national homes. I’ll count Spain in the early fifteenth century and then … Certainly it is a very short list. What a time to be a Jew! Britain is looking towards Jews and Jewish organisations to provide leadership on some of the most important issues of the day; how do we encourage our youth to develop a sense of communal obligation, how can we instil within us a shift in our relationship with energy and consumption large enough to save our planet? And we are responding, with wise words, meaningful gestures and eloquence.


But enough talking, now we have to walk the walk. Sunday week, 15th November, we celebrate Mitzvah Day at New London. We are one of some 200 organisations across the Anglo-Jewish spectrum who will be coming together to engage in meaningful volunteer activity ‘to reduce hardship and poverty, to help our environment and to bring a little joy all through volunteering – not by fund raising. It is a way for all of us to make our mark.’ Our project, ‘Bring it On’ is a collectathon. On the morning of 15th November, we are asking members to bring

  • phone cards
  • non-perishable food
  • clothes and shoes
  • toiletries
  • stationery and art materials
  • toys, games and children’s books
  • household goods and products

Which will be sorted, packed and delivered to a number of local refugee supporting organisations including the New North London Asylum Drop-In and The Seperated Child Foundation. Your contributions and your time to volunteer are gratefully appreciated.

For more information please see


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

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