Senior Liberal Rabbi hosted Jeremy Corbyn and Jewish Voice For Labour co-chair for Shabbat dinner

Exclusive: Rabbi Danny Rich invited the party leader, amid a growing schism in the community over Labour antisemitism


The chief executive of Liberal Judaism hosted a Shabbat dinner where Jeremy Corbyn and the co-chair of the Jewish Voice For Labour were guests, the JC has learned.

The Friday night dinner, which took place last month, included an invitation to an Israeli conflict resolution specialist along with Mr Corbyn and Jenny Manson’s respective partners.

News of the dinner is likely to spark concern among those in the Jewish community who still advocate a hardline against Mr Corbyn's party and accuse him of failing to deal with antisemitism within it.

Rabbi Danny Rich, who is also a Labour councillor, has publicly appealed for British Jews to find a way to work with Mr Corbyn, saying there is a “danger” of communal leaders “being accused of only desiring regime change in the Labour Party — and there is not a cat in hell’s chance of that happening”.

He also described the Ms Manson as “a very decent woman” but stressed he did not support her bid to become Labour’s candidate for the Finchley and Golders Green seat.

It is understood that Rabbi Rich, who is a member of the Jewish Labour Movement, did not inform the organisation of his dinner invitation to Mr Corbyn and Ms Manson in advance.

Asked about the Shabbat dinner, Ms Manson told the JC: “I am not going to comment on any of my personal engagements.

"It is for the host to confirm whoever they had for dinner. I am not surprised you are interested in it but I will not comment either way.”

A source close to the Labour leader confirmed to the JC the dinner took place but said it was a personal rather than official engagement for Mr Corbyn.

When contacted by the JC, Rabbi Rich said: "Who I invite to my Shabbat dinner is a private matter."

Rabbi Rich triggered a backlash in an interview with the Jewish News last week, when he said there was “an obligation for the Jewish community to work very closely with the Labour leadership.

"The situation today is very volatile, and working closely with those who might form the next government does not mean that when one sees antisemitism, it shouldn’t be called out," he said.

He called the lack of communication between Labour and the Jewish community “not helpful”.

Rabbi Rich added: “I want Corbyn to meet religious Jews who have a relationship with Israel. I would like Labour to appreciate more that there are Jews who share many aspirations of the Labour Party, compatible with their support for the state of Israel.

“The community needs to find a way of dealing with Labour — but nobody is going to do it where we can’t have a civilised conversation”.

Jon Lansman, the Momentum founder and close ally of Mr Corbyn, praised Rabbi Rich’s intervention.

He wrote on Twitter: Yasher Koach (Congrats) to Liberal Rabbi Danny Rich who talks sense to both sides about @UKLabour (which must engage with all strands of Jews) & the Jewish Community (which should re-engage with Labour).”

But in a scathing statement, former Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush said: “I can’t follow Rabbi Danny Rich.

"More than six months ago the Board and the JLC set out simple basic steps that Labour needed to take to restore the community’s trust. Labour signally failed to take them, indeed matters have got worse.”

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