Sunak says he is ‘flattered’ to be called 'nice Jewish boy' by JC at Jewish Care dinner

The prime minister skipped the Boris Johnson Partygate vote to attend the event


On the night MPs voted on the Partygate report on Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak was two miles away in Park Lane, telling 1,000 supporters of a Jewish charity how much he admired their organisation - and that he was "flattered" to have been labelled "a nice Jewish boy" in the JC.

Speaking at Jewish Care’s annual dinner at Grosvenor House, the Prime Minister said: “I was told the other day that it was a bit of a tradition at Jewish community dinners for the guest speaker to trace their Jewish heritage.

“Now, sometimes apparently the answer turns out to be a very, very distant relation. But intriguingly a piece in just this week’s Jewish Chronicle suggests, and I quote for those of you that didn’t see it, ‘Rishi Sunak is a nice Jewish boy’.

“Well, I can tell you I was pretty flattered,” he said, “so I thought I’d better to do some homework.

“So, I’ve now studied every part of my family tree; my aunts; uncles; cousins, once and twice removed; and tonight I can formally reveal, for the first time; that I have absolutely no Jewish heritage.”

Sunak - who is Hindu - was assigned "Jewish" status in a JC story about a theory posited by the comedian Lenny Bruce that everything in life can be divided into two categories - "Jewish or goyish".

The prime minister falls into the former category, according to the story.

In his speech, the Conservative Party leader also paid tribute to the late Sir Ben Helfgott, lauded the Jewish Care and Jewish community’s volunteering efforts, and confirmed his intention to carry out the construction of the proposed Westminster Holocaust memorial and learning centre.

In order to attend Jewish Care’s annual dinner, the Prime Minister missed the landmark “Partygate vote” on whether to impose sanctions on former Prime Minister Boris Johnson over his denial of parties taking place at 10 Downing St during lockdown.

MPs debated on the findings of the Privileges Committee report without Sunak in attendance, and voted overwhelmingly in support of the report, by 354 to seven.

Sunak told reporters on Sunday evening that the issue “was a matter for the House [of Commons], not the government.”

The Jewish Care dinner, which raised over £5.2m for the charity, also featured entertainment by Jewish singer Craig David, and speeches from Lord Levy, Dame Gail Ronson, and Jewish Care chairman Jonathan Zenios.

The prime minister also posed for a picture with the Israeli ambassador to the UK, Tzipi Hotovely who thanked him for his "continued support to the Jewish community and in fighting the BDS campaign."

During his speech Sunak hailed the "incredible" organisation.

He said: “Your culture of service represents not only the best of our Jewish community but the very best of Britain.”

"From the 4,000 kosher meals-on-wheels distributed every month to the thousands of telephone calls and home visits, “no one is ever alone when they have Jewish Care".

But he acknowledged the “critical role” government had to play in social care, citing a commitment of up to £7.5 billion over the next two years, “the biggest funding increase in social care history”.

He applauded the contribution of “a community where you study hard and work hard to succeed and take pride in that success - a community that’s proud to be Jewish and proud to be British too. So I say, don’t trust me because I’m Jewish; I say trust me because I get it.”

There were never extenuating circumstances for antisemitism, Sunak declared: “It is hatred pure and simple and it has no place in our country, from our sports stadia to our university campuses. You can count on me to fight it and just today we’ve introduced new legislation to outlaw boycotts, divestments and sanctions.”

Continuing a “wonderful tradition of my predecessors”, there was a daily Point of Light award to a star volunteer.

Sunak announced that the latest recipient was Jewish Care volunteer, Rita Roth, who has raised more than £100,000 for the organiastion's Rosetrees home in Friern Barnet.

“She travels there every Wednesday from Southend just to give residents and staff their favourite bar of chocolate," Sunak said.

"It’s called Rita’s chocolate drop and she’s an extraordinary person.”

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