The Board of Deputies’ decision to tie in with Oxfam’s food project Grow/Tatzmiach was mirrored by another demonstration of Jewish social action this week.
World Jewish Relief, Tzedek and Gefiltefest have signed up to the campaign Enough Food For Everyone IF, a national coalition calling upon David Cameron to use his presidency of the G8 to address the causes of world hunger.
Henry Grunwald, president of World Jewish Relief, said: “We feel that this is something WJR must be involved in. WJR not only looks inwards to the Jewish community but also outwards to the wider community. We can’t close our eyes to that fact that one in eight people go hungry because of a food system that is broken but can be fixed.
“Faith groups have a particular role to play in delivering development in the UK and abroad. This particular campaign has 80 NGOs signed up to it and we have been working closely with Jewish NGOs to make sure that the Jewish community is involved. We believe that Jewish organisations must take part in social action.”
Jude Williams, chief executive of Tzedek, added: “We believe there is a Jewish obligation to get involved in this. As Jews we need to be involved in the Jewish community and support Israel, but there is also another level where we need to be involved in world issues, in the issues of extreme poverty. This international problem does require a national response, the British people are saying to David Cameron we want this, so make it happen. That is why, for us, this campaign is a great moment.”
The Jewish Social Action Forum (JSAF), the umbrella group for the United Synagogue, the Reform Movement, Liberal Judaism, Masorti Judaism, Rene Cassin, Jewish Council for Social Equality, GIFT, Mitzvah Day, Jewish Volunteering Network, the Union of Jewish Students and JW3, has also signed up to the campaign.
David Brown, JSAF campaigns manager, said: “JSAF is supporting the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign because we draw inspiration from Jewish values which push us to act for a fairer and more sustainable world for all. JSAF is proud to be mobilising the Jewish community’s involvement in making 2013 the beginning of the end of hunger.”
Ms Williams and Mr Brown, along with Board of Deputies senior vice-president Laura Marks, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klauser, WJR chief executive officer Paul Anticoni and other Jewish leaders, attended the campaign launch at Somerset House on Wednesday night.
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner spoke in front of approximately 1000 people as one of the three faith leaders on stage: “As Jews, when we say the blessing after meals we thank god for the food we have. If you believe in God, or don’t believe in God, we know we have enough food to give.”
Actor Bill Nighy and Harry Potter actress Bonnie Wright also spoke at the event while philanthropist Bill Gates and former Archbishop Desmond Tutu showed their support through a video projected on to the building.
The launch continued on Thursday morning at a Faith Breakfast hosted by Luciana Berger MP and held at Parliament.
UK synagogues will show their support for the campaign this week by dedicating their Shabbat services to the issue of hunger. Rabbi Miriam Berger from Finchley Reform Synagogue and Rabbi Haim Shalom from Menorah Synagogue will be addressing the food crisis in their sermons.
Enough Food For Everyone IF predicts hunger and malnutrition will harm almost a billion young people in poverty by 2025.