Bishop Michael Ipgrave with Hilary Stone, Staines Synagogue Chairman, and Kenneth Stone.
Our national Chairman, Bishop Michael Ipgrave, was warmly welcomed to Staines Synagogue by the Synagogue Chairman, Mrs Hilary Stone, on his visit to the Branch in September. Taking the subject ‘The Light Sleeper – Antisemitism Today’ the Bishop pointed to the publication four days earlier of nine essays under the heading ‘Lessons Learned: reflections on antisemitism and the Holocaust’ by the Community Security Trust and the Holocaust Education Trust.
Highlighting the essay by Archbishop Justin Welby, he drew attention to the Archbishop’s term ‘the virus of antisemitism’, and summarized with some observations of his own seven themes the Archbishop had staked out:-
History: the recycling of old myths that will not die such as the Jews engaging in a conspiracy to control the world;
Christianity: the shameful truth that theological teachings, which should have afforded an antidote to antisemitism, had compounded the problem, one outcome being what Jules Isaac had called ‘The Teaching of Contempt’. Thankfully the Roman Catholic Church had radically refocused its sights since Vatican II but Christianity was a notoriously fragmented faith and there are churches were anti-Judaism is still manifest.
Agendas: ‘The virus’, the Archbishop had observed, ‘continues to seek a host’, the most readily suborned for the purpose being Israel which was constantly held up as the symbol of injustice even though the standards of its neighbours were far worse;
Racism: Racism’s most virulent expression is antisemitism. The Bishop quoted the London Mayor, (a Muslim) ‘Hate crime against Jewish people is against everything we stand for’.
Positives: We should celebrate the Jewish contributions to honest finance and other important values of British life’.
Confrontation (of unacceptable attitudes): A failure, too often, to confront, what the Conservative Communities Secretary, Sajid David, called ‘Dinner party antisemitism’.
Theology: Men and women are made in the image of God. To act against antisemitism is not to be ‘politically correct’ but to take sides with God.
The Bishop left a good time for discussion, a range of questions being addressed and everyone thoroughly engaged. The Branch Chairman, Cedric Dowe, conveyed our warmest thanks for a quality evening, our appreciation all the greater because the Bishop had kept the appointment though it was only three days after his enthronement at Lichfield.
Cedric Dowe, chairman of the CCJ Staines Branch