Video produced and directed by JNTV’s Ben Burman.

For content submission, contact: jackm@thejngroup.com

The latest in the Jewish News’ series of JNTV videos, covers the opening of a new dedicated Interfaith section on the Jewish News.

Faith minister Lord Ahmad has called for faith communities to stand up and be vocal in stressing that religious communities are “part of the solution” rather than a problem in society.

Lord Ahmad was speaking at the launch of the Jewish News’ new online interfaith channel at the House of Commons last Thursday, which was attended by representatives from seven faith communities.

The section, the first of its kind for any single-faith media in the UK and backed by the Pears Foundation, aims to highlight the work of organisations and initiatives bringing members of different faiths together to benefit others or simply to break down barriers. It was welcomed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, who described it a “great and timely initiative”.

Lord Ahmad told 100 guests that Britain is “an incredible example not just of tolerance but of mutual respect” where people from all backgrounds have thrived. He said: “Whether it’s the Near Neighbours project run by the Church of England or the Mitzvah Day initiative I participated in last week at my local synagogue or The Big Iftar run by the Muslim community, these are all demonstrable examples of how faith communities are not a problem as some would perceive them. We’ve got to stand up and be strong and vocal about that – we must demonstrably be able to say faith communities are part of the solution.”

The minister, who took on the role earlier this year, wished the project well and said he looked forward to working with the paper to build a “stronger, diverse yet united nation that we all aspire to be part of”.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who was unable to attend owing to a campaigning commitment in the Rochester by-election, congratulated Jewish News for the channel, which “will help build friendships and understanding, and strengthen the best British traditions of tolerance and respect for each other’s beliefs”.

Addressing the event – which was jointly hosted by Mike Freer MP, Lord Levy and Lord Verjee – Trevor Pears, executive director of the Pears Foundation, said: “Unless there is more awareness and voice given to the good news and positive relationships that exist, people will only read and hear about the bad news and negative relationships, leading too often to an erosion of confidence and trust in each other.”

Thanking Jewish News for its “leadership”, Pears said: “This new channel will help shine a spotlight on all the great work being done to strengthen our communities.” Jewish News’ Justin Cohen said he hoped the initiative would counter misconceptions of faith communities being in constant conflict and stressed that there was more that unites than divides the various communities. But he added:

“At the same time, it won’t whitewash the realities on the ground or ignore the many challenges facing the interfaith world. The questions of what makes an acceptable partner for interfaith dialogue… what issues should and shouldn’t be raised… these were all prominent topics for debate in our pages this summer and I’m sure will continue on the site.”

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