Progressively Speaking: What does the Grenfell Tower fire teach us?

Progressively Speaking: What does the Grenfell Tower fire teach us?

Rabbi Charley Baginsky questions what this tragedy tells us about those we trust with our lives

Grenfell tower blaze
Grenfell tower blaze

I write a weekly message to my congregation and it saddens me deeply to realise that not a week has passed recently when I have not had to comment on tragic events.Death, destruction and violence have become part and parcel of our lives.

To many, the fire that devastated Grenfell Tower felt the most overwhelming of all. As well as mourning the lives lost, there is a strong sense this tragedy was

Everywhere we hear the view that someone must be to blame. We saw the government and the local council apologise for its handling of the tragedy and recognise that so many in our society are subject to a lack of advocacy and protection.

Combined with a general feeling of uncertainty within the country’s leadership, it is not surprising many of us feel let down by those we trust with our lives.

I cannot be alone in wondering why so many see time as linear and not, as Judaism does, as circular.

Move onwards, upwards, and yet we know if lessons are not learnt, if they are not carried with us, then truly nothing changes.

When the first set of tablets was destroyed, one commentary tells us the people continued to carry the pieces with them wherever they went, along with the new tablets.

It was a reminder of the mistakes that had been made and ensured they acted differently in the future.

I hope all our leaders will take with them lessons from the Grenfell Tower and work tirelessly to ensure this cannot happen again.

But I also find immense hope in the leadership that has emerged from the grassroots, the people who have brought donations of supplies and time.

As Progressive Judaism teaches us, leadership is not always the person who stands on high. Often it is the person who stands with the people.

Rabbi Charley Baginsky is director of strategy and partnership for Liberal Judaism

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