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Nick Robinson tells Reform Jews: do not feel “besieged”

British Jews “should not feel besieged” declared veteran BBC broadcaster Nick Robinson at Reform Judaism’s annual dinner on Wednesday 18 October.

The Today Programme anchor addressed over 200 guests at the Movement’s biggest dinner to date, held at central London’s Grand Connaught Rooms, and supported by long term sponsors Investec.

Click here to see a gallery of pictures from the evening taken by Graham Chweidan

Mr Robinson applauded the work of Reform Judaism, noting his encounters in the Today Programme studio with Senior Rabbi, Laura Janner-Klausner. He also praised the Movement’s engagement with young people with mental health problems, support for older people and outreach to Muslim communities as “the best answer for people who want to know what it means to be Jewish”.

Paying tribute to his German refugee grandparents, Robinson noted that his Jewish heritage is something that is becoming more important to him as he grows older. Discussing anti-Semitism and the rise of extremism, he urged his audience to “always fight for the truth” and to respond to extremism with a “full range of emotions” including humour and empathy.

Referring to a recent report by the Community Security Trust and Jewish Policy Research, the BBC’s former Political Editor noted that Britain is “one of the least anti-Semitic countries in the world” and that we must recognise that “hatred, anger and fear affects many, many people beyond the Jewish community… we must ask ourselves what we can do to reach out to others – as Reform Judaism does”.

Click here to read a transcript of his speech in full.

Reform Judaism Chair Geoffrey Marx stressed the importance of Reform Judaism and communities working together:  “Reform Judaism is a community of communities, a multiplier for each congregation, creating and delivering Reform Judaism in all its diversity, underpinning growth and well-being and devolving best practice across all our communities for their and our future together”.

This message of partnership was underlined by Jennifer Jankel of North West Surrey Synagogue in her appeal: “I cannot possibly imagine how we would live open, generous and meaningful lives without Reform Judaism… Reform Judaism sustains, strengthens and is successful”.

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