Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis joined Sadiq Khan and religious leaders for an interfaith Iftar at St John’s Wood Synagogue on Wednesday night.
The event, organised by the Naz Legacy Foundation, was attended by pupils from a number of London schools, including JFS and Kantor King Solomon High School.
It was attended by faith leaders including Dame Sarah Mullally, the newly installed Bishop of London, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster. Politicians including Labour MP Rupa Huq were also present.
Addressing the multi-faith audience of over 100 people, the Chief Rabbi said: “It’s good for all of us to be together at a time when there is so much intolerance, that we are showing understanding and tolerance and affection towards others.
“At a time when there is a very worrying level of hate within our society, it’s great that we should show our sense of togetherness. It’s sending out such a hugely important message for us to be here, and it is seriously pleasant.”
He added: “The strong statement we’re making here tonight is that in Britain in the future we want all members of faiths to be proud of their traditions, to stand up for what their religion speaks about, and at the same time to play in integral role within our society – to utilise the strengths and the beauty of their faith and traditions to enhance our society.”
The speeches were followed by the traditional breaking of the Ramadan fast with milk and dates, and then a meal.
The evening built on the success of a similar event last year, and was the first to be attended by leaders of all the major faiths.
Mr Khan said: “I’m delighted so many young Londoners are a part of this Iftar because as Mayor I always enjoy spending time with young Londoners and listening to what you have to say.
“It fills me with optimism because you are so much more open-minded, you are so much more progressive in your outlook, than even the previous generation that came before you.
“I’m confident that those who seek to divide us will never succeed. What convinces me of this is you, our young people. Because you reject the narratives of hate, you reject anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, you reject all forms of racism and discrimination and you know that our diversity isn’t a weakness but our greatest strength, it isn’t a challenge to be managed but an asset to be unlocked.”
He added: “For many the very idea of a Mayor of Islamic faith, a Christian cardinal, a bishop of London, being with the Chief Rabbi in a Jewish place of worship during the month of Ramadan to break a Muslim fast would be completely alien – incomprehensible, even.”
Mr Khan said the interfaith Iftar was a “reflection of everyday life in a city as cosmopolitan and diverse as ours”.
He said: “It should be a huge source of pride to all of us that here in our city we have people of all ages, all faiths, all backgrounds coming together to break bread and to break our fast.
“Tonight is a perfect illustration of that spirit of unity and that sense of inclusion that truly defines us a Londoners and makes our city the greatest city in the world.”
The Iftar was organised by the Naz Legacy Foundation, established in memory of Muslim community leader and educationalist Naz Bokhari.
Speaking at the event, Dame Sarah Mullally, who became the first ever female Bishop of London when she was installed earlier this month, said: “As people of faith we hold a real opportunity to strengthen this city. Us coming together and understanding our differences and our strength is not only good for individuals, because we will be richer for it, it is not only good for our faith, because each of our faiths will be richer for it. but it will be better for London and London will be richer for it.
“We can create communities that have greater resilience about them, and greater compassion and greater love.”
She told the young people present: “You know the potential for your future. You are people who have different visions of the world, you understand the possibilities that lay before you, you don’t see the obstacles but you see the opportunity and chances.
“Therefore there is something for us to learn from you – to know that our future is a future of possibility and not obstacles.”
Honoured to join @ChiefRabbi, @CardinalNichols, @bishopSarahM and young Londoners of different backgrounds and faiths for tonight’s interfaith iftar at the St John’s Wood Synagogue, organised by @NazLegacy. London’s diversity is its greatest strength #Ramadan #interfaithiftar pic.twitter.com/n46yDBGUEJ
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) May 30, 2018