Rabbi laments 'many Jewish families' living in poor, overcrowded housing as group backs Shelter campaign

Rabbi Alexander Goldberg says 'decent housing is a universal right that is steeped in our prophetic tradition'


A rabbi has spoken of how he has seen "many Jewish families" in poor or overcrowded housing, as he and 10 colleagues from across the community launch a campaign to raise awareness about housing rights.

Eleven Orthodox, Masorti, Liberal and Reform rabbis, from social action group Tzelem, are trying to highlight discrimination in the housing market and to work towards alleviating child poverty caused by a lack of social housing.

Orthodox Rabbi Alexander Goldberg, who is the Jewish Chaplain to the University of Surrey, said: “I have seen with my own eyes the predicament of families in sub-standard and overcrowded housing across London and that includes many Jewish families.

“It’s heart-breaking to see and so unfair on the kids. We don’t speak out on this sort of issue enough, but decent housing is a universal right that is steeped in our prophetic tradition.

"By working together and with other faith communities I hope we can make a real change.”

As part of the campaign, the 11 rabbis are calling on the rest of the 120 members of Tzelem to help them raise awareness of the issue through their synagogues, interfaith coalitions and lobbying both politicians and major landlords.

Tzelem said it would launch the campaign at Passover and run until Succot, with a series of events in communal Sukkahs across London, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and across the UK.

The rabbis were briefed by Shelter’s Bryn Phillips and Chris Thorne on housing discrimination, especially against those receiving benefits.

Mr Thorne cited a YouGov survey that found nearly a third of people on housing benefits could not rent a home because landlords would not let to people on benefits.

He said: “Open discrimination against people on benefits is freely taking place...

"This means hundreds of thousands of people may have come up against this type of discrimination in recent years.”

Tzelem Coordinator and student rabbi, Sarah Rosenbaum, said: “Each person present shared stories about their community’s interaction with homelessness. For some, the interaction is distant and for others, the issue is all too personal.”

Rabbis working with the homeless charity include Reform Rabbi Jackie Tabick, who became Britain's first female rabbi in 1975, along with Rabbi Oliver Joseph, of Elstree and Borehamwood Masorti Synagogue.

Liberal Judaism's Rabbi Sandra Kviat, and Reform Judaism’s Naomi Goldman were also part of the group which met with Shelter officials this week to get a better understanding of issues such as housing discrimination.

Rabbis, Margaret Jacobi, Sylvia Rothschild, and Sarah Rosenbaum are also part of the group.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive