Rabbi Danny Rich has urged the community to “consider the real issues at stake” after he was criticised over plans to host parts of a virtual seder with the group Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL).
The seder is being organised by JVL, together with the Jewish Socialist Group, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the British Shalom Salaam Trust.
Liberal Judaism’s former senior rabbi and ex-chief executive is set to assist with the rabbinical aspects of the “liberation seder” on 9 April.
Organisers said the seder will, according to a report in the Jewish Chronicle, be a chance for those tuning in to “reflect on modern injustices’’ such as the “misery of Israel’s occupation.”
Other areas explored will include the experience of refugees and asylum seekers, the rise of food banks and the impact the pandemic will have on precarious workers, public servants and shop-workers, JVL’s co-chair Leah Levane said on Thursday.
JVL, which was set up in 2017 and is sympathetic to Jeremy Corbyn, was previously criticised by community leaders over its stance on alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party.
Academic David Hirsh appeared to criticise Rabbi Rich on social media on Wednesday. Reacting to the Chronicle’s report with apparent faux shock, Hirsh shared a tweet from last November claiming a Labour canvasser had told him while door-knocking that she was assured by Rabbi Rich it was “okay to vote for Labour.”
In a statement, Rabbi Rich said: “I am a freelance Jewish educator and was asked by a group of Jews to assist with the Jewish/rabbinic aspects of a seder. I do not divide the world into ‘good’ Jews and ‘bad Jews’ or judge each and every Jew by his or her politics.
“The Haggadah, in a metaphorical sense, talks of the evil child who does ‘separate him or herself from the community’. Would we refuse him or her a Jewish education if he or she asked?
“The Jewish community -and alleged experts -need to grow up, and, at this time in particular, consider the real issues at stake out there.”