Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer discussed topics ranging from antisemitism to the plight of those in French refugee camps at Masorti Judaism’s annnual dinner.
In conversation with the movement’s senior rabbi, Jonathan Wittenberg, Sir Keir told the 320 guests at Allianz Park in Hendon: “Jeremy Corbyn has said that antisemitism has no place in the Labour Party. If that isn’t getting through, then he needs to say it again and louder — and I’m very happy to make sure that happens.”
On his experience of visiting the Calais and Dunkirk refugee camps, Sir Keir said that seeing “unaccompanied children in flimsy tents in the filth was just shocking. I felt strongly that the government wasn’t doing enough about it.”
Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev also addressed the dinner, which raised a record £110,000.
Commenting on the recent collapse of an agreement to create an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, Mr Regev said: “The Jewish state was not created for one stream of Judaism. Israel was created for all Jews. The goal must be that everyone should feel comfortable when they pray at the Kotel.”
Since 1990, Masorti Judaism has grown by 114 per cent while overall UK synagogue membership has declined by one fifth. It now has 2,600 families representing more than 6,000 individuals.
Proceeds from the dinner will go into general funds, supporting Masorti goals such as enhancing existing communities and developing new ones, backing student rabbis and growing its youth and young adult groups Noam and Marom. It also wants to develop lay leaders across the movement.
Dinner guests were asked to give an extra 10 per cent — or a sum of their choosing — to Marom in Budapest, whose Aurora Centre engages young people with Judaism and supports NGOs working with the refugee, Roma and LGBT communities. The appeal brought in more than £6,000 and chief executive Matt Plen remarked: “Supporting our partners in Budapest is a strong expression of the Masorti values of community and social justice.”