By Rabbi Miriam Berger
I was touched to receive a beautiful email from the founder of a local mosque with whom Barnet Citizens had brought us together for local campaigns over shared issues.
The email was a direct response to his watching the news and seeing the atrocities committed in Copenhagen and reflecting back a few weeks to those in Paris.
He was writing to show his support and ask if there was anything his members could do as a community, as, in his words: “It is crucial at these difficult times that Muslims offer support to Jewish schools and synagogues and regain the true Islamic spirit in which it demands protection of places of worship and those of any religions worshipping in them. It is unacceptable for parents or worshippers to live fearful of something that is inhumane and un-Islamic.”
A lovely sentiment, but how to answer? I would love our communities to stand together against the polarisation of our faiths each act of terror increases, but I am mindful of not wanting to put either community at risk of the lone wolf who doesn’t share our passion for co-operation and dialogue.
Yet last weekend was Shabbat Zachor, the Shabbat before the festival of Purim, when we were commanded to remember not to forget the atrocities committed against us. Yet we are being commanded to make the active passive.
Throughout Torah we are told to remember something to correct our behaviour. We are told to remember the Exodus from Egypt, as it leads us to treat the stranger in our midst with dignity.
We are told to remember Shabbat, for it reminds us to treat our workforce with integrity. And we are told to remember the atrocities committed against us, for it reminds us to blot out evil in the world. So how can we make the passive active?
How can we remember atrocities committed against us by reaching out to those saying “We are not like them, we want to stand with you and together blot out their name”?
• Miriam Berger is rabbi at Finchley Reform Synagogue