Manchester reaps the rewards from its Charedi partners

Becoming chair of the Jewish Strategic Group during the pandemic opened my eyes to the work done by selfless individuals from this community


Since assuming the role of chair of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region, I have been exposed to wonderful individuals and organisations from a section of the Greater Manchester community with which I previously had limited interaction — namely the Charedim.

During my tenure as chair of The Fed — the Manchester community’s major welfare provider — I oversaw a successful merger between the organisation and Heathlands Village.

The role of the new entity expanded as it became far more than a residential care home.
Its work outside of Heathlands Village was wide-scale and it rightly received plaudits from those who took the time to engage and understand their mission.

This work continues today and every time I visit, I feel a sense of immense pride at what has been achieved. Simultaneously, I was also supportive of many other charities that operated across our diverse Manchester community.

But even with this in-depth knowledge of the Jewish communal landscape, my world changed in May 2020 when I became chair of the Jewish Strategic Group, brought together to help the community navigate the pandemic.

This opened my eyes to the work done by the most selfless and dedicated individuals from the Charedi community who go out of their way to help the less fortunate.

I have always been a believer in working together. It has been a central tenet of my philosophy during my time in business, across the Third Sector and throughout my year as High Sheriff. I was, therefore, keen to understand how the newly revamped JRC could utilise such relationships to benefit our whole community.

I worked alongside the local authorities from Bury, Salford, Manchester and Trafford to commission a mapping project that unsurprisingly ended up being titled Working Together.

The sheer number of communal stakeholders engaged was something that had not previously been achieved.

One of the recommendations from the report was to launch a Working Together campaign. Although I regularly visit Charedi organisations, my primary interaction is through the Alliance of Charedi Representatives.

This was established at the time the JRC passed a new constitution to facilitate discussions with members of the Charedi community. It sits perfectly alongside the JRC and Jewish Strategic Group.

After hearing their thoughts, I came away both reassured and delighted. I also thought about the many excellent events hosted by the JRC with representation from the entire community. A particular highlight was being able to regularly showcase the amazing work of Charedi charities to senior politicians across Greater Manchester.

It is also clear that charities within the Charedi community go out of their way to support all Jews, irrespective of their levels of religious observance.

Our chief executive, Marc Levy, recently remarked that “when you ring [emergency service] Hatzola, they don’t ask if you keep Shabbat”. And the determination from those involved in Misaskin to ensure Jews of all denominations are buried in accordance with halachah is inspiring.

Similarly, the work of the foodbanks or groups set up to provide mental health support or look after vulnerable youngsters is not predicated upon which shul you attend.

It was ultimately decided that there was no requirement for a collaboration campaign given that we are working together so closely. We have instead concluded that our efforts would be better spent continuing to break down stereotypes.

We will continue to champion the causes of all charities as there should be no barrier to helping people in need.

Mark Adlestone chairs the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester

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