Our Common Values - 16 November 2018

At Western Marble Arch Synagogue, over 120 leaders from the Indian and Jewish communities gathered communities to celebrate “Our Common Values.” This was the Indian Jewish Association's event for Inter-Faith Week 2018.

The Chief Rabbi and Lord Gadhia gave short speeches.

In his speech Lord Gadhia of Northwood said:

"This is a timely gathering falling in Inter-Faith Week and between the festivals of Diwali last week and Hannukah coming up in December. It's an opportunity to celebrate the strong ties between our two communities: 1.5 million British Indians and 300,000 British Jews. I speak as someone who grew up in north London side-by-side and in harmony with the Jewish community. That experience has strengthened my admiration for your achievements and confirmed that Jews and Indians share many of the same intrinsic values anchored around family, faith and community, with a strong emphasis on education and entrepreneurship.........It pains us to see the anguish felt by your community at the ugly rise of anti-Semitism in Britain and around the world. I would like to reiterate that British Indians resolutely stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Jewish community until anti-Semitism is eradicated in all its forms."

In his speech, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said:

"The term thanksgiving is very relevant to tonight's occasion. How do you say India in Hebrew? Hodu. Hodu means thanksgiving. Therefore we give thanks to God who has blessed the Jewish people, and blessed the Indian people, in a wonderful spirit of harmony and amity. We have so much in common. There are four key areas where we bond together: tradition, family, community and food. The Association, in its work bringing together Jews and Indians is just remarkable, it's something so precious.

The Chief Rabbi talked about his Ben Azzai Programme, which is an annual initiative taking university students on an immersive international trip to India or Ghana:

"In 2015, Valerie and I visited 19 Jewish communities in 5 cities over 11 days. We also made a point of visiting the slums of Kolkata and Mumbai. We came back to Britain determined to do something practical to help people. So we established the Ben Azzai Programme, empowering us as a Jewish community to reach out to the people of India and others around the world who require help and assistance. Next month, we are sending 16 Jewish students to Kolkata who will return to the UK as our social responsibility ambassadors.

If you want an example of unity, look at Jews and Indians. If only the whole world took a leaf out of our book, this would be a very different planet. As Indians and Jews together, we are playing different instruments but are together in the same orchestra, and our aim is to continue with that harmonious tone.

In his vote of thanks, Zaki Cooper, IJA Trustee, said:

"Our small charity, the Indian Jewish Association, was founded in 1996. We do not have a paid staff and we rely on the goodwill of our volunteers. We exist to strengthen relations between Britain's Indian and Jewish communities. The goal of inter-faith is not to agree on everything. It is to understand our differences, and work on our commonalities."