OPINION: Interfaith work enriches our country
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

OPINION: Interfaith work enriches our country

Baroness Williams
Baroness Williams
Baroness Williams
Baroness Williams

Baroness Williams of Trafford is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government. Her responsibilities include integration and faith, women and equalities, and race equality.

A couple of weeks ago it was the 50th anniversary of a landmark document – one of the most important documents that you may have never heard of – the Nostra Aetate.

It laid out, for the first time, a declaration from the Catholic Church that all faiths should be valued and people from all religions should be treated with friendship.

This was revolutionary in changing the relationships between Christian, Jewish and Muslim people. It paved the way for interfaith work today as we know it.

Interfaith works offers a unique opportunity to bring people together and has been a key focus for my department over the past five years. We firmly believe that all of Britain’s diverse faith communities enrich, not divide our country.

In communities across the UK, interfaith groups work daily to create understanding and friendship in diverse neighbourhoods.

I see it in the work of Near Neighbours – which brings communities together in over 1,000 locations across England. In churches, town halls, mosques and parks, people from every faith – people who most probably would never have had the chance to meet – make friends and learn or teach others how to sew, bake or even to code.

While their hands and minds are productive learning new skills, or their taste buds trying new kinds of delicious food, people speak to each other and discover they have more in common than they thought.

Near Neighbours has been a great success in this country. So much so that earlier this month the Austrian Foreign Minister, Sebastian Kurz, visited a Near Neighbours project in Southall to learn from our activities in order to bring its success back to Austria.

This year’s InterFaith Week led by the Inter Faith Network will see hundreds of events being hosted across the country, with activities as diverse as learning to give a tour of your faith centre to speed-dating style religion information sessions.

The highlight of InterFaith Week is Mitzvah Day – a day where people are asked to donate their time, rather than their money, by volunteering themselves for community and charity needs.

If any day reflects interfaith work perfectly it is Mitzvah Day. Created by the Jewish Community as a way to bring different Jewish groups together, it has developed into a multi-faith event celebrated widely across the nation and also internationally.

It’s even inspired other faiths groups to start their own charitable days, with the first Sadaqa day from the British Muslim communities proving a huge success earlier this year.

And in these uncertain times increasing religious understanding and respect is more urgent than ever, and should not be neglected.

Building understanding and friendships between faiths provides a huge opportunity not only to challenge the narrative of terrorists, but also to transform neighbourhoods and communities.

We all need to recognise that faith groups are a tremendous force for good; serving and supporting the downtrodden and marginalised in society, and bringing communities together.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

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...

Engaging

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.

Celebrating

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.

Pioneering

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.

Campaigning

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.

Easy access

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.

read more:
comments