We are living, once again, in extremely difficult times, both for the Jewish People and for civilisation as a whole. Jews are under threat simply for being Jewish. The core values of freedom, equality and the rule of law are under attack precisely because they are core values.
Our thoughts are with the family of Dan Uzan, killed outside Copenhagen’s synagogue while he was helping with security. In the words of the chief rabbi of Denmark Jair Melchior, he was ‘a person who was always willing to help’. They are also with the family of film director Finn Norgaard, ‘a warm-hearted and creative man’ who made films about the dreams of the down-trodden. Our prayers are with all those who were wounded and traumatised.
What should we do, as Jews and as citizens of the UK?
We must insist that our political, religious and civic leaders of all faiths and parties take every possible measure to ensure the security of the community and that they speak out clearly against anti-Semitism, as they must against every from of racism. We too must be vigilant; we are fortunate to have available the expertise of the Community Security Trust, who work closely with the police and the government. The CST needs our support and co-operation.
We should strengthen our bonds with our own community. It is easier to confront uncertainty and anxiety when we feel connected to one another. We should reach out to those who feel alone, and be sure to care for each other. We should express our solidarity with the communities of Paris and Copenhagen and across the world.
We should deepen our bonds with Judaism. This is not a time to shrink from, but to embrace our faith, so that we can find courage in its wisdom, support in its spiritual and ethical depth, discipline in its rituals and inspiration in its history.
We should work together with those of other religions and none to strengthen our society in the name of our common values. The evil of the few should not make us cynical about the good will, active or potential, of the many. Though proactive vigilance is needed in the fight against fanaticism, our society will in the end only be made safe by working together for the dignity and rights of all. We need to develop and deepen the bonds of civic society, and of relationships between the faiths, at every level.
Though these times are fearful, we must continue to count our blessings. It is the way of Judaism to be thankful for life’s gift and to dedicate ourselves to the service of life at all times.