Joy for rabbi and campaigners as council agrees to take in 50 Syrians


A London council has agreed to resettle Syrian refugees after a campaign led by a local rabbi.

Rebecca Qassim Birk, rabbi at Finchley Progressive Synagogue, headed a Citizens UK effort to get Barnet Council to take in the refugees.

Council leader Richard Cornelius announced that the local authority would accept 50 Syrians at a meeting at the synagogue on Sunday, attended by 200 people.

He told the gathering: "Rabbi, the answer is yes," acknowledging that the campaign had pricked his conscience.

The local Citizens UK group, made up of Rwandan, Syrian, Jewish and Catholic communities in Barnet, said it had organised homes and places at schools and GP surgeries for the refugees.

Rabbi Birk said: "We know it's not easy for a council to say yes, that's why we needed local people to show their support, find homes and offer a warm welcome."

Norwich Liberal Jewish Community is planning a service in its Succah this Shabbat to call for the city council to follow Barnet's lead.

Meanwhile, more than £445,000 has been raised by World Jewish Relief's appeal to help Syrian refugees since the beginning of September.

Paul Anticoni, chief executive of the charity, said: "The Jewish community has risen as one to show that it can be counted upon to make a life-changing difference."

A meeting to discuss the community's response to the crisis will be held on Wednesday at the JW3 centre.

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