A blog by Tim Burton-Jones
In recent weeks a series of reports have been released that indicate a rising trend of anti-Semitism across England. Such reports have prompted serious parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism; the All-Party Parliamentary Group on anti-Semitism has gone so far as to call for internet “ASBOs” to ban those who use social media to promote an anti-Semitic agenda.
However, despite these headlines we’ve been seeing some really promising work across our programme, as Jewish residents are meeting and making friends with people from a wide range of different backgrounds. We’re also really pleased to have been able to fund some great initiatives from our small grants fund. Additionally, we want to recognise the excellent work done by our regional partners, the Three Faiths Forum and the Council of Christians and Jews.
Near Neighbours has been working within local communities since 2011, building new and lasting relationships within communities that have high levels of ethnic and religious diversity. We have supported groups across England as they take part in cross-faith social action projects to improve the communities in which they live. We have had wonderful success in fostering new relationships of trust within a variety of communities and have been working very closely with the Jewish community consistently since 2011.
We supported a great initiative in Leeds who have been hosting meals with the Jewish, Christian, and Muslims communities in the city. The hope for these meals is that relationships of trust will be built and new friendships emerge. Eating together is a uniquely powerful way of being able to build positive relationships and this group has done a fantastic job of bringing together these diverse communities and nurturing the growth of new relationships in Leeds.
We would also like to mention a Jewish led community group who we have supported as they work to build inter-faith relationships. They have been working with girls across several sixth forms where one faith group is more highly represented than others, meaning that it is difficult to meet people of different faiths. They have been pairing girls from different schools together and allowing them to learn to do computer coding. This has been a wonderfully fruitful mechanism through which to build lasting and valuable cross-faith relationships, whilst also teaching an important software skill.
Our national partners are also promoting healthy inter-faith relationships. The Three Faiths Forum has been running education, engagement, and action programmes that bring diverse communities together with the hope that they can build understanding and lasting relationships between people of all faiths and beliefs. Their work in bringing the Jewish community together with others has been invaluable. Visit their website.
The Council of Christians and Jews is another of our national partners and has developed excellent ties between the Christian and Jewish faiths, as well as working with other faith communities. The council was founded in 1942 and has been running programmes and events since then that it is hoped will build ever stronger ties between a variety of communities. Visit their website.
Near Neighbours would like to thank all of those mentioned above for their continued work in bringing together faith communities. We would also like to thank all of our Jewish friends that have been working with us to promote a renewed sense of community between faith groups across England. Thank you for helping us bring people together.
“One of the most profound religious truths Judaism ever articulated was that God loves diversity.” Rabbi Sacks
Author: Andrew Mathews
Date: 10 February 2015
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