Manchester Reform community tells commission about experience of hate
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Manchester Reform community tells commission about experience of hate

Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen of the Jackson’s Row Synagogue tells Law Commission she's 'shocked by the antisemitism, misogyny, transphobia and homophobia'

Mancunian Jews give evidence of antisemitism and misogyny to the Law Commission
Mancunian Jews give evidence of antisemitism and misogyny to the Law Commission

Members of a big Reform Jewish community in central Manchester have told the Law Commission how they experience hatred on the streets of the city.

Feedback from members of Jackson’s Row Synagogue was given as part of the Commission’s travelling review as it seeks to understand whether the UK’s current hate crime law is fit-for-purpose.

Reform Jews detailed their experiences of antisemitism, misogyny and homophobia last week, through the shul’s membership of Greater Manchester Citizens, which hosted the event.

“I started in my post two years ago and in that time I have been shocked by the stories of antisemitism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia that my community shares about their experiences on the streets of Manchester,” said Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen.

“I try to model being proud… and then they step onto the streets and are subjected to abuse. I get very angry and sad. We did a listening campaign in the synagogue and safety came up on top – as women, as Jews, as people who are gay.”

Ashworth-Steen said a 93-year old member of the synagogue who came over on the Kindertransport recently stood up on the bimah and said she felt “like it was happening again,” adding that she felt “powerless as a pastoral leader”.

Another Jackson’s Row member, identified as Alison, recalled an instance whereby she suffered verbal abuse of a religious and sexual nature, saying: “I feel when I’m identified as Jewish the amount of harassment and misogyny I get is much more. It tends to be much more racial and much more sexualised.”

Last year, the Antisemitism Policy Trust held its inaugural ‘Sara Conference’ in 2018 to combat it, showing how female Jewish MPs were 15 percent more likely to be subjected to abuse by users of far-right website Stormfront than Jewish male MPs.

The Law Commission is considering hate crime legislation, following a campaign to make misogyny a hate crime.

Charlotte Fischer, who works with the Jewish community at Citizens UK, said: “Antisemitism and misogyny are increasingly interlinked. I’m pleased that Jackson’s Row is working with mosques, schools and other community groups to change the experience Jewish women are having.”

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