Yom Shabbat, 23 Av 5779
Saturday, 24 August 2019
Rabbi Danny Rich: We must offer sanctuary

3rd September 2015

By Rabbi Danny Rich, Senior Rabbi and Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism

The month of Elul and the coming Yamim Noraim (High Holy Days) are a time of reflection for Jews – demanding not only personal introspection, but requiring an examination of collective neglect.

The image of a drowned child washed up on a beach in Europe is simply the latest stark reminder of the tragedy which Syria’s neighbours, particularly Jordan and Lebanon, have been dealing with for a number of years.

A year ago, with the Conservative leader of Kingston Council, I called for each British local authority to offer sanctuary to 50 Syrian refugees so that Britain might lead the world in this moral endeavour.

The challenge of migration is, of course a local, European and international one but, despite British efforts in the region itself, there is no excuse for not making a generous and dramatic offer of sanctuary now.

History teaches us the cost to innocent men, women and children when countries and international partners delay in the face of an emergency, and the Jewish community is particularly sensitive to the fate of those who appear abandoned by the world community.

On Yom Kippur afternoon Liberal Synagogues will hear this verse (Leviticus 19:16): “You shall not stand by idle when your neighbour’s blood is being shed.”

Will we be part of the generation who stands by idly or shall we ‘pursue justice’ for the most vulnerable?