Blears praises shuls for interfaith work

By Simon Rocker, May 14, 2009

More than three-quarters of mainstream synagogues do some kind of interfaith work, according to a survey to be published next week by the Board of Deputies.

The results “show what some may think of as a surprising degree of engagement in interfaith activity by the broad swathe of our community,” said Board chief executive Jon Benjamin. “But this confirms what many of us already know — that the Jewish community is keen to play its part in wider society and to share its experience of successfully integrating into British society.”

The study was hailed by Hazel Blears, Communities and Local Government Secretary, as one “in which the Board shares its genius for making interfaith dialogue work”. Her department, which supports programmes for social cohesion, helped fund it.

Ms Blears was guest speaker at the Board's annual presidential dinner in London on Wednesday along with former Tory leader Michael Howard.

Saluting the Board’s schools twinning scheme and its campaign against the far-right, Ms Blears told the 250 guests that the organisation had gone from “strength to strength” under Henry Grunwald, who steps down as president after six years on Sunday.

She said the Board’s efforts to get voters out for the European elections could “make all the difference” in stopping the BNP gaining a seat.

“I do not take it lightly when I say that this country would be a poorer place by far without the incalculable contribution of British Jews,” she said.

Last updated: 11:23am, May 14 2009