After Jewdas’ seder, Corbyn must finally lead and take responsibility

It was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek, very alternative event with an eclectic, counter-cultural group. I accepted my relative’s invitation to attend the Jewdas seder because of the Jewish imperative of ‘kiruv’. Kiruv is bringing all Jews, particularly those I don’t agree with, closer to Judaism.

But I didn’t get very far. In the foyer, I was aghast to see the Leader of the Opposition, just one week after our major protest against anti-Semitism in his party. I immediately left, as this now had become part of his agenda.

I believe Jeremy Corbyn was certainly not motivated by ‘kiruv’, of engaging with those he doesn’t agree with. Of all the possible Jewish events, he (davka) chose this particular one. It was a bad call, one which can at best be seen as naïve, at worst, provocative.

However, this is a distraction. Whatever our views about Jewdas, this must not be the story. We must not make Jewish communal infighting – the opposite of ‘kiruv’ – our Pesach story, as this releases the Labour Leader from responsibility.

At Pesach, we throw out our chametz, we put our own houses in order. We must demand this approach from Jeremy Corbyn – a thorough assessment of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, an admission of what has gone wrong, a serious commitment to engage, especially with those he disagrees with.

Now our Sedarim are finished, we are counting days to Shavuot with seven weeks of reckoning. The counting of the Omer is a period of mourning, of deep reflection. We need Jeremy Corbyn to do the same.

Mr Corbyn now needs to reflect and lead. Leadership means he will take difficult decisions, upsetting people close to him. Leadership means prioritising tackling hate over political expediency or the comfort of just being with those with whom you agree.

It is time for the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition to finally lead and show he can act responsibly on anti-Semitism.

About the Author
Rabbi Janner-Klausner grew up in London; worked as an educator in Jerusalem for 15 years working with Jews and as dialogue facilitator trainer of Palestinians and Israelis. She is the Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism in the UK.
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