Thought of the Week: 2 July – Viv Bellos

Written by Writings & Sermons by others — 2 July 2015

So the panic is over;  they aren’t going to demonstrate; we can all attend our service this Shabbat in the knowledge that all is calm and peaceful a mile down the road in Golders Green and those deranged neo-Nazis have been prevented from demonstrating by the solidarity and determination of the good people of Golders Green and district.

For those of you who missed the news of the impending demonstration by a small minority neo-Nazi  group due to be held this Saturday in Golders Green,  the outcome for us all has been to realise that actually Golders Green is one of the most multicultural multi faith chilled communities in London. The threat of the demonstration has seen all three major faith groups and the whole local community pulling together so hard that Golders Green was in danger of literally turning gold and green with bunting and flags. The demonstration has been called off but ‘Golders Green Together’ will continue and as Rabbi Laura Janner Klausner wrote “It is absolutely fantastic that people from such diverse backgrounds and communities worked together and united to see off this horrible little demonstration”.

But this area has always had strong interfaith connections. Alyth itself has often collaborated with St Judes and the Free Church choirs in many concerts and events including the St Judes Proms. We even held all our Shabbat services at the Free Church during one of our previous rebuilding phases and then again at the United Reform Church in Hoop Lane during another. Only last weekend I was at a talk at Henrietta Barnett, part of the St Judes’ literary festival, where the majority of ushers as well as the person introducing the event were Alyth members so that I felt very ‘at home’

In the last couple of years Rabbi Mark and Rabbi Maurice have forged strong links between Alyth and the local Muslim community. Last week the synagogue welcomed them to its second “Kosher Iftar” where almost 100 members from the local Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities came together one night during Ramadan to break their fast.

Next October Rabbi Maurice is hosting a joint concert here at Alyth with St Edward the Confessor Catholic Church celebrating 50 years since the Vatican accepted that Jews were not responsible for the killing of Jesus.

Add to these events Alyth’s involvement with refugees, homeless, and many other interfaith groups and it is evident that we are at the centre of this wider community. This week that community showed that united they can combat any group who wishes to harm any section of that whole.

It is appropriate that this week’s sedra Numbers 24 v. 5 contains the words’ Mah Tovu ohalecha Ya’kov mishk’notecha Yisrael’. ‘How fair are your tents O Jacob your dwellings o Israel’ the words we sing at the beginning of all our services. Balaam used these words to describe the encampments of the Israelites seeing before him a picture of happiness and harmony. May Alyth continue to play a vital role in the wider community and present that picture of happiness and harmony to all who visit us.