Masorti panel is split on UK Jewish future


A heated debate on the future of British Jewry in the light of rising antisemitism was a highlight of a Masorti educational and cultural day at the New North London Synagogue in Finchley.

At a “Question Time” session during the annual Yom Masorti programme, panellists were asked if they agreed with Maureen Lipman’s comment that Jews were no longer safe in Britain.

“I think it is the beginning of the end for us now — [and] for European Jewry, too,” Baroness Deech observed.
“We have all seen the attacks on kashrut and we understand what is coming next.

“If I was 30 or unmarried I would consider leaving. The vibrancy you see today is no guarantee of our survival.”
TV producer and writer Dan Patterson — husband of Board of Deputies senior vice-president Laura Marks — said that those “who say it is great being a Jew in this country are burying their heads in the sand. I don’t think it is, personally.

“People are just saying things they would not be saying 20 years ago and I think we have got to watch it.”
However, Board of Deputies CEO Gillian Merron considered such comments “unhelpful and damaging.
“I don’t think it does us any good. A lot of people are concerned about antisemitism,” she said. “It sits also on the minds of non-Jews.
“They worry that I or you are considering leaving the county because of what people with profile and influence say.

“Britain is a great place to be a Jew and we need to be saying that instead.”
The debate — chaired by journalist Joshua Rozenberg and also featuring Finchley and Golders Green Parliamentary Labour candidate Sarah Sackman — attracted over half the 250 Yom Masorti turnout.

Ms Sackman defended party leader Ed Miliband over accusations that he was anti-Israel, adding that voters should also consider the “myriad of social issues which will be determined by the outcome of the election”.
Other elements of the day ranged from a discussion on same sex marriage to JooDoo drum workshops and there was also a programme for youngsters.

Yom Masorti regular Marilyn Rose, 76, said: “It is fantastic to meet people of different ages, different political and religious views. With two Jews you get three arguments.”
New North London member Peter Davis, 65, said: “The whole day is very good — lots of opinions, lots of politically savvy people.

“It is a good mixture of learning about biblical and current events and it is a chance to catch up with what is going on in Jewish literature and Jewish thought. You also get to meet up with a lot of old friends.”
For Danielle and Clive Gaby, the day offered “a chance to learn where the movement has come from and where it is going.

“They have great childcare and so many projects going on beyond the religious side of things. To find all of those elements is really rewarding.”
Participants came from congregations including St Albans, Hatch End, Buckhurst Hill and Bournemouth — and from as far afield as Leeds.

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