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Co-Chair Heather Fletcher's speech at Adam Day 2015

10 August 2015

Adam Day is organised each year on 10 August by the UK arm of the Azeemia Foundation. The purpose of the event is to bring people together to reflect on mankind's common descent from Adam.

Our Co-Chair Heather Fletcher made a speech based on the wider aspects of the Jewish concept of "Mispacha" (family). It is reproduced below with her permission.

Speech

Good evening, ladies and gentleman and distinguished guests. I am delighted that I have been invited to speak at this 13th Adam Day.

Tonight I would like to speak about the Jewish concept of MISHPACHA.

In its narrowest sense mishpacha simply means “the family” consisting of blood relatives and relatives by marriage. The family is important in Judaism, after all there is the commandment of honour thy father and mother. Every major Jewish festival includes a family meal such as the Jewish New Year family meal, the Seder meal at Passover and the large meal which follows the Day of Atonement fast. It is also customary for the family to eat together every Friday night to start the Sabbath.

However, I would like to concentrate on the word mishpacha in a much broader sense. The word is often used to include close friends as well as family.

To my mind, we are all friends here tonight and part of one very large extended family — the human family descended from Adam. However, I believe that not only should we celebrate and eat together but we should look out for each other and help each other in times of trouble and need like a blood family. Recently there have been many tragic events such as the murders in Copenhagen, Paris and Tunisia but I would like to share with you some positive stories where different faith communities have helped each other out in times of need.

In 2013, following the murder of Lee Rigby, many mosques were unfairly targeted and damaged. Muslim leaders in Stamford Hill, London recruited the help of Shomrim, a police trained ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood  patrol,  to bolster security for the mosques in that area. This Jewish patrol diligently kept an eye on all mosques and reported anything suspicious to the police.

In Bradford, a few months later, the final remaining synagogue faced closure due to lack of funds. However, there was a fundraising effort led by the Secretary of a local Mosque and the owner of a curry house and a local Muslim textile magnate which secured the future of the Synagogue. Earlier this year in January this Bradford Synagogue co-opted a Muslim representative who had helped them survive to sit on their Council and be involved on the day to day running of the Synagogue.

In February, Norwegian Muslims organised a peace vigil in Oslo on a Saturday in solidarity with Oslo Jews following the tragic murders in neighbouring Denmark. As the Jewish congregation came out of the Synagogue after the Sabbath prayers a group of young Muslims formed a symbolic ring outside the building.

In June, our own Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester celebrated our 10th Anniversary with a special Dinner at Manchester Town Hall. By holding 75 diverse events in the past decade our Forum has built bridges between Muslims and Jews in our city and made it feel very normal for us to be friends with each other. In fact, after 10 years, I think that we have now evolved into our own family or mishpacha. It is working together, helping each other and celebrating our diversity which eradicates ignorance and fear and creates a more peaceful and cohesive society.

I would like to thank the organisers for putting on yet another excellent Adam Day and bringing together so many people of diverse faiths and cultures in one large happy family or mishpacha.

 

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Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish Communities of Greater Manchester

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