Open UK’s doors to Syrians, say rabbis

Rabbis from across the community are backing a Jewish group’s campaign to bring Syrian refugees to the UK.

Seven leading Charedi, United Synagogue and Reform ministers are among the 161 signatories to a Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCore) petition which calls on Prime Minister David Cameron to open Britain’s doors to Syrians affected by the civil war in their country.

This week, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told MPs that “around 1,500” Syrians have settled in the UK.

But JCore founder Edie Friedman, said Mr Clegg had “side-stepped the issue” by counting people who had already applied for asylum. She said the government needed to implement a proper refugee resettlement programme alongside other European countries.

Refugees camps are one small step away from hell

Masorti rabbi Jeremy Gordon, Liberal rabbi Danny Rich, Rabbi Sybil Sheridan of the Reform movement, and US rabbi Lee Sunderland will be among those delivering the petition to Downing Street.

Rabbi Sunderland, of Romford Synagogue, said the campaign “might be controversial for some, but is should be obvious that [refuge] is the normal thing to do for people who have absolutely nothing.

“The words ‘refugee camps’ speak for themselves — they’re desperate places and are one small step away from hell.”

Orthodox rabbi Naftali Brawer added: “As Jews, we can’t turn away from this. We were strangers in the land of Egypt, and so feel the pain of strangers.”

Rabbi Hershel Gluck, the Charedi founder of the Muslim-Jewish Forum, described the conflict as a “crisis of a global magnitude.

“Refugee camps in Jordan are bursting at the seams. It’s casting a lot of instability in countries that are not stable at the best of times.”

He hoped the “community will have a positive reaction” to the JCore campaign.

Dr Friedman said: “It is important that there is a Jewish voice on this issue for our community and the wider community to hear.”

Last updated: 5:45pm, January 9 2014