Q: What can our community do to ease the refugee crisis?
Rabbi Aaron Goldstein says…
It is an honour, a duty and a mitzvah for us to act to help those in need. Others did it for us – too late for Aylan, Galip and Rehan Kurdi, as it was for six million Jews in the Shoah – yet we are here because of them.
We shall not remain indifferent. We shall act. You may already have acted but if not, there is plenty you could do. You could make a financial or material contribution – winter clothing, a tent or sleeping bag. You could write to your MP, or better still to go and meet them at one of their surgeries.
How about volunteering at a drop-in centre, transporting goods or joining a campaign? Or why not go one step further, providing sanctuary in this country.
Are you one of the landlords of the 635,000 homes in England that are empty, of which 216,000 have been empty for more than six months? Or would you offer shelter in your own home?
As a community and as individuals, we should put our money, materials, time and energy, perhaps even our shelters, where the #refugeeswelcome message demands. Something bad has happened.
This time it is not to us. Let us not be indifferent, a bystander, let us act, let us be a human being, let us be a Jew.
• Aaron Goldstein is senior rabbi at Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue
Jonty Leibowitz says…
The ancient call to perfect the world through ‘tikkun olam’ is a cherished and celebrated value of the Progressive Jewish community, yet the refugee crisis presents a challenge to our notions of how and why we achieve it.
Seeing the tragic pictures of Aylan Kurdi and thousands more, it is easy to feel like the emergency is too big and far away for any one of us to do something about it. It is easy to feel insignificant.
However Pirkei Avot reminds us: “It is not upon you to complete the task, but neither are you free to idle from it.” In other words, every little helps. This must be our Progressive response to a seemingly insurmountable crisis; whatever we can do to help, we must.
The Progressive community has led the way. A group of LJY-Netzer bogrim have been packing boxes for Calais at the Finchley Storage Unit. RSY-Netzer has done likewise.
Finchley Progressive Synagogue has led a coalition of Barnet Citizens to campaign for the council to let 50 Syrians resettle in the area. Last Saturday, hundreds of Jews marched in solidarity with the refugees. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel infamously described marching as “praying with my feet”.
This crisis compels us to move those feet once more, in the name of our values, history and tikkun olam.
• Jonty is a madrich on LJY-Netzer and a member of Finchley Progressive shul