My family and I have lived in Golders Green for nearly 15 years, and I’ve shopped, worked and eaten here for most of my life. One of the things I love about the area is the mix of people, shops and places of worship. There are few other places in the country where you could give directions to a kosher bakery by saying “it’s opposite the Greek Orthodox Church”.
I assumed, perhaps naively, that living in a diverse environment would reduce prejudice. But I’ve discovered that for some people, this isn’t the case.
I’ve spoken to people who live in roads near to the Hippodrome building and I know that the issues of parking, congestion and noise are real and significant.
These are valid reasons to object to a planning application. However, the fact that Barnet Council felt the need to remove the comments on the application from public view due to the nature of some of them is both disturbing and embarrassing.
Imagine if the situation were different and a Jewish group had purchased a building in an area where there were few Jews. Undoubtedly, they would park badly and make a lot of noise — you need only visit Golders Green on a Friday morning to see that — but the local objectors don’t just mention this. Instead they complain about all Jews in stereotypical ways…
We can rely on the council and the expressed good will of our new neighbours to sort out the external issues, but we, as individuals and as a community, are responsible for our own internal attitudes.
Let’s work together to ensure that Golders Green truly is a harmonious neighbourhood, for all its residents.
Vicki Belovski is the rebbetzin of Golders Green United Synagogue and a freelance writer