Rabbis from across the religious spectrum have joined communal leaders in insisting the Paris atrocities must not be allowed to “lesson our commitment” to supporting refugees.
Their message comes in an open letter initiated by the The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE), which talks about the need to aid those “who have endured unspeakable horrors in their quest for safety”
It reads: ‘The horrific events of Friday 13 November have inevitably cast a shadow over all of us..” but “we must not allow these horrendous events to divide our communities.
Among the signatories were representatives from the United, Reform, Liberal and Masorti movements, in addition to the Board of Deputies, Union of Jewish Students, World Jewish Relief, Mitzvah Day and others.
The letter follows claims by the French government that some of those who attacked the capital used the refugee crisis to slip into the country.
Edie Friedman, Executive Director of JCORE, said: “Of course, security is uppermost in our minds right now. But while recognising that, we mustn’t lose sight of our common humanity – the very thing that separates us from the terrorists. We must also remind ourselves that the refugees are fleeing from the very violence that engulfed Paris.”
Meanwhile, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis invoked the arrival in Britain of hundreds of Jewish orphans after the Holocaust – “the boys” – as he addressed the plight of Syrian refugees during an address to World Jewish Relief’s annual dinner. It came just two weeks after his visit to the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece with the charity.
Speaking about the humanitarian disaster which has resulted from the refugee crisis, he told the 500 guests at the Guildhall: “What is happening in Idomeni is happening in the Ukraine, it happened in Nepal, and 70 years ago, when 732 orphaned children were helped after the Holocaust to come to this country. Not only were their lives saved but they have been enabled to rebuild their lives. And give a contribution of inestimable value to our society.”
He praised the charity as an orgabisation that “doesn’t just stand and look”. On our behalf, he said, “it does something. I returned home being proud of being part of our British Jewish community.”