Chief Rabbi: It’s a Wonderful Life for British Jews
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Chief Rabbi: It’s a Wonderful Life for British Jews

Ephraim Mirvis warns, however, that the 'black dot' of antisemitism is growing

Joe Millis is a journalist

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis at Limmud Festival 2018
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis at Limmud Festival 2018

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis believes UK Jews are living a wonderful life, although there is a genuine problem of growing antisemitism.

Mirvis, speaking in front of a packed audience at Limmud Festival in Birmingham on Tuesday, recalled his appearance before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee on Antisemitism.

He said that he appeared the day after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and was asked: “Chief Rabbi, how do you assess the level of antisemitism in the UK today?”

Mirvis held up a white piece of paper on which he had scribbled a black dot. “I asked the panel, ‘what do you see’? They thought I had gone absolutely meshuggah.

“They said there’s only a black dot. I said, no there is something else. They said: what are you talking about. I said the black dot is only about five percent of the paper, but 95 per cent is white.

“I said to them, in the next hour, I’ll be speaking about antisemitism – that black dot. But I want you to understand from the outset, that the 95 percent is also true.

“Life for Jews in this country is wonderful. We are free, we are sitting here in Birmingham at the Limmud Festival. Amazing. We are devoting precious days of holidays to study whatever we want to.

“Jewish communities are thriving. Every week a new kosher restaurant opens, and they are all full – not awful, all full”, adding that most of the community’s children go to Jewish schools.

“But in the midst of all this we have a problem – antisemitism. It’s a genuine problem. I am not trying to minimise it and the black dot is growing, but we do also need to celebrate what we get right.”

The Chief Rabbi was speaking the subject of leadership in five biblical passages.

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