The educational role of the Jewish Museum will become increasingly important in the fight against rising antisemitism, one of its leading supporters said last week.
In welcoming Mayor of London Boris Johnson as guest of honour at its annual dinner Lady Wendy Levene, chair of the museum’s development committee, told the 200 guests at Mansion House in the City of London that antisemitism has become rife and acceptable in mainstream society.
She said that antisemitism stemmed from ignorance: “Many people simply do not understand our culture and our traditions and we have to educate them.”
Mayor Johnson responded by saying that “I plant my flag on what Wendy Levene has said.
“It is vital to remember what the Jewish community have done for London and it is also vital to remember the senseless threats that Jews have faced throughout history.”
On a lighter note, he brought laughter when he thanked the Lord Mayor of the City of London Ian Luder for allowing the use of his “little parlour” — the magnificent banqueting room in Mansion House.
The Mayor emphasised that many sectors of the capital “have benefited from the rich and varied genius of the Jewish community”.
Museum director Rickie Burman said: “We are delighted that the mayor has endorsed the Jewish Museum at this crucial stage in our development.
“When it opens the new museum will be a positive force in stamping out racism and fighting antisemitism as well as an inspirational and exciting place to explore Jewish culture and heritage as part of the vibrancy of multicultural Britain.”
The event raised around £200,000 towards the £10 million rebuilding of the museum’s Camden Town premises. It has already brought out new multi-coloured, six-page pamphlets as part of its rebranding.
When it reopens early next year, the museum hopes to reach 165,000 people annually through its new displays and a dynamic events and exhibition programme. It also aims to build interfaith understanding, promote tolerance and inspire people to take a stand against racism.