> The Hull Reform Synagogue - Ne've Shalom
The Hull Reform Synagogue - Ne've Shalom



The following article, by Michael Henderson, which was brought to our attention by Les Rosenberg, was first published in the Telegraph on 31 January 2015 and considers that although anti-semitism is everywhere, being Jewish in Britain is better than anywhere in Europe.

At a Hollywood party many moons ago Billy Wilder found Sammy Cahn wearing a long face, and wondered what was up. "I was with Johnny Mercer last night, and he doesn't like us a lot," the songwriter told the film-maker. "Well," replied Wilder. "You should know what an anti-Semite is. Somebody who dislikes Jews just a bit more than is necessary." If anybody was entitled to say a thing like that it was probably Wilder, who lost his mother and other members of his family to the death camps. It was Wilder's dark central European humour that helped to make him, for some of us, the greatest director of films in the English language.

Jews have been plucking the rose of humour from the muck of tragedy for at least 2,000 years, so it is worth commending Wilder's aperçu to Maureen Lipman, who has declared that if the current blasts of anti-Semitism become much windier, she may feel obliged to leave the land of her birth to live either in America or Israel. Like many Jewish people, she is alarmed by what Eric Pickles described yesterday as "the creeping cultural acceptance of anti-Semitism". Not being Jewish, nor a member of any social group that finds anti-Semitism acceptable, I must defer to Miss Lipman, who clearly knows whereof she speaks. Nevertheless, we must try to persuade her that, all things considered, this country remains a good place for Jewish people to live. If it isn't, then heavens above, we are all diminished.

The first thing to say is that, as the Wilder story makes clear, anti-Semitism exists everywhere; yes, even in American showbiz, which was created by Jewish people. If Miss Lipman thinks that life on the upper east side of Manhattan will be more pleasant than Hampstead, she may be backing the wrong horse. For, while she is Jewish, she is also English - from Hull, no less - and the Humber looks nothing like the Hudson.

What follows is more difficult to express because there is a danger of succumbing to complacency. Still, it has to be said that being Jewish in this country is better in almost every respect than being Jewish anywhere else in Europe. Recent events in France require little amplification. Germany, which has done so much to confront its troubled past, does not necessarily offer a safer haven. Nor does Italy or Spain.

As for Austria, where two dozen superbly gifted secular Jews turned the worlds of music, art, architecture and social science upside down a century ago, Vienna remains enmeshed in an anti-Semitic fog that may never lift. A group of American musicians passing through Vienna not long ago asked why there were so few Jews in the city's orchestras. "Oh, we settled that matter 50 years ago," came the reply.

No, on balance, it is better for them to stay here. We don't need fewer Jews; we need more. No "ethnic group" (dreadful phrase) has contributed more to the life of this country, and we need them to carry on contributing, without fear of insult, assault or casual mockery.

In every field of human activity Jews have been at the front of the queue, making our world a better place. So if some are feeling bruised and battered by the gusts of anti-Semitism blowing in from a continent that has written their history in blood we must ensure they know how greatly we have need of them.

All of them. Starting with you, Miss Lipman


Ne've Shalom
Great Gutter Lane
HU10 6DP



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