I began my week at the Home Office. Our MP Mike Freer had arranged a meeting with Caroline Nokes MP, Immigration Minister, for me and two other Barnet rabbis. Finding a slot has not been easy.
Along with Citizens UK we asked Barnet to take in 30 children over 10 years along with every Local Authority across the UK. Richard Cornelius, leader of Barnet Council agreed as long as they receive funding. At the meeting we discussed how we and the Minister's office can support central and local government attempts to fulfill this promise. It was good to hear from her that she uses Barnet as an example of good practice in settling refugees, and understands we along with Lord Alf Dubs and Safe Passage are asking for more.
In these tense Brexit times she told us a poll revealed attitudes to immigrants and those seeking refuge has improved these past two years. I found that intriguing.
I reflected on the challenge we have as engaged citizens. We want to bring about justice and push for saving lives and yet we also understand the practical restrictions that dictate who can be cared for and where Barnet Council’s resources go. It is good that we are part of the conversation.
The Book of Exodus finishes this Shabbat with the wonderful image of the Community of Israel being guided and directed by the Pillar of Cloud by Day and Fire by Night to keep them on track and on route. We want that in our lives.
We want to hold it all, balancing the needs of ourselves and those in our families - feeding and caring for those we love, supporting those who are in hard times, earning a living, finding the potential spiritual (and intellectual) nourishment in our synagogue – with those in wider society. Should we be marching in the street or continuing with focus on ourselves?
Finding our place and our direction in how we use our time is paramount for a good life.
When we finish a book of Torah we say 'Chazak Chazak V’NitChazek' 'Strength, Strength Let Us Be Strengthened'. Let that be so for each one of us.
Shabbat Shalom to all