UK Jews reach out to Arabs

By Jessica Elgot and Simon Rocker, February 3, 2011

Religious, business and community leaders, including two US rabbis, have spent five days in Nazareth forging connections with Arab businesses and charities, in the first trip of its kind organised by the UK Taskforce on Israeli Arab Citizens.

More than 50 participants included representatives from across the religious spectrum: Alei Tzion (United Synagogue) rabbi Daniel Roselaar, Liberal Judaism chairman Lucian Hudson, Masorti Senior Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, the Chief Rabbi's adviser on Muslim-Jewish relations, Rabbi Naftali Brawer, and Reform executive director Rabbi Shoshana Boyd-Gelfand.

Board of Deputies treasurer Laurence Brass, a Bicom representative and UJS president Alex Dwek were also on the trip, led by UJIA chief executive Doug Krikler and Trevor Pears.

Alice Wood, co-ordinator of the UK Taskforce, said: "The idea was to bring together different ways we can work together - politics, religion, business and education. We held a round-table with Arab business leaders, the business delegates on the trip and Jewish philanthropists on how to develop the Arab private sector."

Liberal Judaism's Mr Hudson said: "We can be seen to be doing something practical not only to help develop the economy, but also to help Arabs to take more control of their lives and to feel more integrated into Israeli society."

Ms Wood added: "Many rabbis on the trip felt they should take the issues back to their congregations and talk about them in shul, to try and educate their communities."

Last updated: 2:29pm, February 3 2011