I was walking up the road after dropping my son at school last week, when a mother told me her 6-year-old daughter had come home from school declaring she wanted to be Jewish.
The mum had initially been taken aback, as this particular Afro-Caribbean family are deeply committed Christians, but it hadn’t taken long to establish her child’s deep commitment to a new faith resulted from days off school taken by my son and his Jewish classmates to celebrate the chaggim during the month of Tishri.
I was able to commiserate with her immediately, as that very morning I had been having a similar conversation with my own son, who was deeply frustrated there are certain hairstyles, sported by his footballing heroes, that I simply couldn’t achieve with his very straight, mousey blonde hair.
The pictures he showed me were of people of Afro-Caribbean decent, whose hair is simply different from ours.
I am thrilled for my son and his friends to understand what makes us different, but the recent Race Disparity Audit in the UK has left me feeling cold, because the reality is its more than religious practice and hairstyles that separate us.
It is a damning indictment on society and deeply embarrassing.
Theresa May said, as she launched the findings of the audit: “We know that Britain today in the 21st Century is a diverse multi-ethnic democracy. Diversity is a source of strength and pride for us.
“But when one person works just as hard as another person – and has got the same ambitions and aspirations – but experiences a worse outcome solely on the grounds of their ethnicity, then this is a problem that I believe we have to confront”
What this audit shows is that there isn’t anywhere to hide. And that’s not just for Government, it is for society as a whole.
The issues are now out in the open and we all have a responsibility to work together to tackle them.
These two 6-year-olds are simply Londoners born and bred. I hope they, like all kids born in this country, will grow up in a new world, where the stark realisation of this disparity changes society and ensures the differences between them which cannot be rationally explained, simply won’t exist anymore.
Rabbi Miriam Berger is rabbi at Finchley Reform Synagogue