Thought of the Week: What does the election of Sadiq Khan as mayor mean for the Jewish community?

Written by Writings & Sermons by others — 11 May 2016

London’s Jewish population is 171,000, more than two thirds of the Jews in the UK.  The Mayor of London therefore means a great deal to the Jewish community and we mean a great deal to him or her.  Sadiq Khan was, of course, elected and knows full well that he has to engage with the Jewish community.

Like all who live in London Jews need good solutions to London’s challenges: crises with housing, the difficulties with transport, strong job creation and decent rates of pay, good standards of education both in Jewish faith schools and in the hundreds of other schools that Jewish children attend.  We need London to be a cohesive city where people of many ethnicities and faiths co-exist in safety and mutual respect building the city together.   A number of Synagogues, including Alyth demonstrated this breadth of our concern for London by being part of the London Citizens Mayoral Assembly two weeks ago where 6000 Londoners of all faiths heard the two frontrunners in the election at the time Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan address all of these issues.

The religious faith and ethnicity of the mayor does not matter but his deeds do.  Sadiq Khan, as an observant understands why faith communities matter.  He also understands that London’s faith communities are diverse within themselves.  He will need to make efforts to understand the issues that matter to those different sections of the Jewish community and also the issues that unite us.  He has attended Alyth to learn about Pesach and also to be part of the Iftar (Muslim Fast Breaking) which we hosted here last year for our Muslim neighbours, he also attended the whole community Yom HaShoah commemoration and this was appreciated. As Mayor he will speak for London in many places and we need to know that he will speak with us in mind as well as the other communities of London.

On this week of Yom HaAtzmaut and in the future he will need to recognise that Israel in all its complexity is integral to the Jewish identity of the great majority of Jews in London.   We are not the only community with another land deep in our hearts, there are 200,000 Greek and Turkish Cypriots in London and over 120,000 Sikhs who are deeply connected to Kashmir and Punjab to name just two communities.  Our Mayor needs to support our relationship with Israel.

Sadiq Khan made a remarkable start to being Mayor for all Londoners by choosing that his inauguration should take place not at City Hall but at Southwark Cathedral.  He invited people from as many faiths of London as possible to be there, I was there on behalf of Alyth Synagogue after his office contacted Rabbi Josh to ask for us to be represented.  Now he must deliver on the meaning of the symbolism.