Torah For Today! This week: Boris Johnson and (kosher) Brexit doughnuts
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Torah For Today! This week: Boris Johnson and (kosher) Brexit doughnuts

Rabbi Abel serves takes a topical issue and applies an Orthodox response

Boris Johnson serving doughnuts on the campaign trail at Grodzinski bakery in Golders Green
Boris Johnson serving doughnuts on the campaign trail at Grodzinski bakery in Golders Green

Boris Johnson recently appeared in a Golders Green bakery to make Get Brexit Done doughnuts. What does the Torah say about that?

Feeding the stranger is a Torah commandment. “They shall eat in your gates and be satisfied.”

So long as a foreign national wishes to live among Jews, the stranger among us shall be “like a citizen, one of us”.

Many kosher bakeries employ citizens from Eastern Europe. Whereas some might be fortunate enough to stay should Brexit occur, others might not satisfy the requirements.

So is it sensitive on our part, under rules abiding by the Torah, to sanction the making of kosher doughnuts by those to whom we are closing our borders post-Brexit?

The Torah commands us to be sensitive to the feelings of the ger, the non-citizen who dwells among us, for example a convert.

Torah observing Jews are told not to remind a stranger of their origins, up to 10 generations.

Brexit is not only about the economy, it is about closing borders to workers in the hope of saving those jobs for the rest of us.

If Boris had lived 100 years ago, I am sure the former generations of now-established families owning East End bakeries would not have entertained the idea of crowning Chanukah doughnuts with a message that effectively puts Polish and Lithuanian migrants out the door.

The Yiddish workers’ unions would certainly not have been in favour!

Boris and Grodzinski’s are perfectly entitled to delight the Pro-Brexit public, and the fact of Remainers not liking a pre-Chanukah gimmick is not morally objectionable in itself.

However, kosher food, which stands for the Jewish concept of solidarity and togetherness, should only be sold to the public if we are not estranging in doing so.

Beyond the excitement of meeting Boris over a decorated doughnut, we need to ask: what if we were the newly-arrived foreigner? How would we feel on either side of that bakery counter?

I believe such a test question should be as much a concern to a kashrut authority as the technical status of ingredients.

Rabbi Ariel Abel CF serves Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and is padre to Merseyside Army Cadet Force

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