Jewish Community’s Contribution to the UK

Yesterday, members of Parliament held a debate on the Jewish community’s contribution to the UK. This was partly motivated by the fact that so many news stories about the community have been negative in recent months – due to ongoing ​incidents of prejudice, abuse and discrimination.

Summarising the debate from the Government’s perspective, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Rishi Sunak, noted that the Jewish people have one of the most enviable records of achievement of any demographic group in the United Kingdom’s history:

“Despite only ever forming a small percentage of the population,
British Jews have shone in almost every field.
They have inspired and entertained, created and innovated.
They have become our doctors, our philosophers,
our inventors, our musicians, our writers, our leaders,
our role models, our parliamentarians 
and, indeed, one of our Prime Ministers.”

Rishi Sunak MPRishi Sunak MP

He went onto note the significant contributions made by several Jewish charities. Jewish Care is one of the 100 largest charities in the UK. It provides care to more than 10,000 people a week and has 15 care homes, 13 community centres and four independent living communities.

As such, Mr Sunak said:

“It is an inspiration to the rest of us, showing how much can be done
within a community to support those in need.”

A second example he chose was Norwood,

“which began in the 1700s as a hospital in the East End of London and has flourished
and grown over the centuries  to support people of all ages.
It highlights just how generous the community is with its time and resources,
with 500 volunteers and £12 million raised every year
to maintain its amazing and precious programmes.”

His third example was the work of World Jewish Relief (WJR), a charity founded by a small Jewish group in London in the 1930s. It now co-ordinates important relief efforts all over the world and helps people of all denominations.

That charity’s work featured in another news report today, about a meeting in which six senior Orthodox rabbis said they felt “humbled” to share a meal with Iraqi and Syrian refugees who are enrolled on WJR’s employment programme, STEP.

Back in Parliament, Rishi Sunak rounded off his speech by saying:

“As the longest-established religious minority in the UK, the Jewish people have led the way
in demonstrating how to integrate fully and participate in our national life while retaining a distinct
and proud identity, and that process has been led by the Board of Deputies. It has shown the way
since 1760 in how to interact with the Government and fight for the rights of a group,
while fostering good relations with those of other faiths and
remaining perfectly integrated in wider society …”

“I stand here as someone who is the son of immigrants, and as someone who is proudly British,
proudly Asian and proudly Hindu. I passionately believe that our ​society is richer for its diversity,
and the Jewish community is a proud and shining testament to that.”