Church leaders in Leeds have pledged to build ties between the UK and Israel during their visit to a Succah at the city’s Etz Chaim Synagogue.
Over 20 pastors learnt about the significance of the Jewish festival of Succot before presenting the Shalom Declaration to Jewish community leaders at a special ceremony.
The Shalom Declaration, which is backed by Christian Friends of Israel, calls on political leaders to combat anti-Semitism and extremism and to increase understanding and cooperation between the UK and Israel, praising Israel as a democratic state where the Christian community is growing.
“Support from the Christian community is absolutely vital in the fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Israel extremism,” said Simon Jackson, president of Leeds Jewish Representative Council. “Initiatives like this really do make a difference and encourage the Jewish community in its stand for Israel.”
Leeds has Britain’s third-largest Jewish community after London and Manchester, and has struck up good relations with many of Leeds’ Christian communities, including Living Hope church, Pentecost Baptist church, Jubilee Christian church International and Mount Zion Pentecostal, all of whom were represented at Etz Chaim.
The shul is no stranger to interfaith initiatives. In 2010, it held a kosher Christian kiddush for 100 members of the neighbouring St John the Evangelist Church. This spawned the creation of a ‘Jewish heritage day’ at the Jewish Heritage Centre for Children in Moortown, whereby schoolchildren and faith groups learnt about life for 19th century Jews in Eastern Europe at the centre’s replica village.