Quito or Swindon?

The papers are full of it. When is the next nutter going to attack the congregation of a synagogue? Admittedly nobody was injured in Texas except the assailant who the FBI killed, but should the community in St. Johns Wood now emigrate to, say, Ecuador where there’s a very nice congregation in Quito.

I  suggest you should be far more concerned with the 1,000 Jews who have now died in Britain of covid. The main reason is not the work of nutters. It is the refusal of too many of our people to isolate when alternatively there are synagogue services and festive gatherings on offer.

One of the worst results came from attending the reading of the Megillah at Purim, and we’re going to do it again very soon. The word Purim actually means Lots, and reminds us with a shudder of Haman deciding which Jews he was going go kill first.

Do you have to hear the Megillah? Lets be absolutely clear; if there is any danger to life, the din is that you have to take whatever steps are necessary to avoid the catastrophe. You may say that the pandemic is now over and, therefore you are quite safe to bang the seats when the name of Haman comes up again. The fact is, however, that 11 Jews died in one week this month; the largest number in a week since March last year.

Purim is part of the history of the Jews in  Persia and one of the other problems we had in those ancient times was with the Greeks at Chanukah. Now there is a Megillah for Chanukah as well, but we don’t read it in the service

We beat the Greeks under the leadership of the Maccabeans but they decided to use the victory to advance their case to be Kings in Israel. It had been traditionally held that the King could only come from the tribe of David, and the Maccabeans didn’t qualify. So the Rabbis wrote them out of Chanukah and gave all the credit to Mattathias, who originally led the revolt. Things can change.

Of course, nobody wants to abandon either Purim or Chanukah but you also don’t want to be distracted by concerns over an unpleasant incident in Texas. We’ve lost 1,000 Jews and none of them were even injured in an attack on a British synagogue. We need to concentrate on the real danger.

We’re not, of course, alone in taking unnecessary risks; like us the Hindu, Sikh and Muslim communities have had more fatalities than the Christians. They too rely on the Deity but G-d helps those who help themselves.

In addition Islamic mosques have also been attacked from Ilford in May last year to Fife in October. In 2020 thousands of pounds worth of damage was done to the Sikh Gurdwara in Derby. The Hindu temple in Swindon has been attacked five times. I’m more concerned for them than about what goes on in Texas.  There are also a lot of churches which are being vandalised by criminals who want the lead off their roofs.

What is really important is that we all stick together.  Fortunately the government, the police and the local councils are right behind us. We don’t need pistol-toting  FBI; we need common sense.

About the Author
Derek is an author & former editor of the Jewish Year Book
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