The real Lionel Blue
I met Lionel Blue last year at his house. Like the rabbi himself, it was small, understated, wonderfully unusual. High taste the mauves and pinks of his upholstery were not. But it was authentically his.
The living room lay stuffed with ornaments and books and manuscripts. They spilled on to the floor, there were so many. Kabbalah, the Raj, The Jewish Enlightenment: physical signs of a life well read.
By this time Lionel was beyond his best. He sat silently on a chair before a zimmer frame watching television. He was weak and could not stand to greet us. He was barely audible.
He never feared death. He lived his early life pained by his sexuality and physically repulsed by his body. He was crippled by depression during those years. But he made a point of not fearing physical pain or his own mortality.
Rabbi Lionel Blue won recognition for his words, but his actions were just as remarkable. If anyone wants a marker of how brave his decision to come out was, do not look alone to what the legions of listeners, LGBT campaigners and rabbis said responding to his death.
Momentarily consider what was not said, and in particular the Chief Rabbi’s response to Lionel’s death this week: shameless, shameful, radio silence.
In a homophobic community, Lionel decided to show the world the person he was. And the world loved him for it.
Gabriel Pogrund, By email
The fanatics who abuse the decency of the free world
I heartily endorse Mr Howard’s letter entitled ‘The wrong direction’ [Jewish News, 22 December].
In no way do I believe the majority of refugees seeking sanctuary in the UK and other European countries are actual or potential terrorists.
Rather, they are prosaic people who want a measure of democracy and the opportunity to make a good living financially.
Unfortunately, there are many fanatics who abuse the decency of the free world. And even more unfortunately, there are politicians from all sides of the spectrum who unknowingly play straight into the hands of these fanatics.
Not all of these politicians are of the ilk of Jenny Tonge, who is a deranged Israel hater.
But there are also those who shut their eyes to the indifference of so many of the wealthy Muslim countries for monetary reasons.
Big business at an international level is at play here.
Anne Wotana Kaye, Stamford Hill
Send us your comments: PO Box 34296, London NW5 1YW
EMAIL US: email@example.com
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.