Yom Sheini, 22 Tishri 5780
Shemini Azeret Monday, 21 October 2019
The only meaningful response to antisemitism is openness

Letter to The Guardian, 22nd January 2015

The only meaningful response to antisemitism is openness

Robert Booth reports (20 January) that “UK Jews are braced for the worst” in an extensive article filled with antisemitic incidents, reported jihadist plots and suitcases packed to leave Britain. While the Paris tragedy and the spike in antisemitic incidents during last summer’s Gaza conflict demand that we remain vigilant and support individuals who are feeling vulnerable, reports from Liberal Judaism constituents seem to affirm the truism that “Britain is good for the Jews and the Jews are good for Britain”.

The challenge of reports like that of Robert Booth’s is that they do not constitute evidence of an actual increased risk of attack but rather they increase the risk of the Jewish community cutting itself off from the wider community and retreating to fortress synagogues, schools and community centres. It is impossible to contribute to an open, welcoming and inclusive society while locking ourselves away; and we cannot confront prejudice if we see only malevolence in our neighbours. The only meaningful, long-term response to antisemitism is to reach out to those of other faiths and of none, to study and work together, and – through our openness – give the lie to the ignorance and hatred which lurks behind sealed doors.

That is why, this Shabbat as every other, strangers will be particularly welcome in our communities. The only response to closed minds is open doors.

Rabbi Danny Rich Chief executiveLucian J Hudson ChairRabbi Charley Baginsky Chair, Rabbinic conference, Liberal Judaism