Steven Lewis's vital debate

The direct language used by Steven Lewis might not be to everyone’s taste. But, in describing the community as more “materialistic and selfish” than ever before, he certainly guarantees a much-needed debate. And it is important — vital, even — that his main point is not lost in the controversy that will inevitably follow his broadside against his fellow Jews.

Whether or not we are more selfish, there is certainly a mismatch when tens of thousands of pounds are regularly forked out for simchas but tzedakah comes a poor second. Put simply, that is not the Jewish way. We are lucky to have many outstanding philanthropists. And we are one of the most generous communities in the country. It is not the amount that is given that matters, but the level that we can afford. As Mr Lewis says: “It’s fair to say that if everyone gave 10 per cent of what they earned, we would have far more vibrant organisations.”

Of course tzedakah is not all about money. But, without money, our much-loved charities would simply be unable to operate. Mr Lewis’s words should be heeded.

Last updated: 5:57pm, June 6 2014