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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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Co-Chair Cllr Heather Fletcher speaks at Adam Day 2023

10 August 2023

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. The 2023 event was the 21st year that an event has taken place in Manchester to commemorate Adam Day.

Our Co-Chair Cllr Heather Fletcher was one of the speakers, as was our Co-Founder Afzal Khan CBE, MP for Manchester Gorton.

Heather has consented to our publishing her speech below. Lower down you can watch a recording of the event.

Heather Fletcher’s speech

Good evening, ladies, gentlemen and distinguished guests. I feel very honoured being asked to speak again from a Jewish perspective at this 21st Adam Day.

Tonight I would like to briefly explain the Jewish concept of HACHNASAT ORCHIM which I feel is both relevant to Adam Day and current affairs. HACHNASAT ORCHIM is a religious obligation to offer hospitality to those in need and to welcome guests into our homes and into our communities.

The Jewish holy book, the Torah, tells a story about Abraham sitting outside his tent when he noticed three strangers approaching. Though he had no idea who they were, he bowed down to them and offered them food. The strangers turned out to be angels. This story illustrates the virtue of welcoming guests and shows how Abraham was willing to offer hospitality even though he was unaware of their identities.

There can be tragic consequences of turning away those in need. One example relates to the St Louis ship which set sail from Hamburg in 1939 with over 1,000 German Jewish refugees. Unfortunately, the USA, Canada and Cuba all refused the ship entry, along with those who sailed on her, and the ship had to return to Europe. Subsequently, many of these refugees were murdered in the Holocaust because these countries did not practise the Jewish obligation of offering hospitality to those in need.

My maternal great-great grandfather Jacob Libstein was welcomed in the UK in 1868 after fleeing pogroms in Lithuania and my paternal great grandparents Philip and Yetta Gudeliski (now Fletcher) were welcomed here from Poland in 1881.

It is important we offer hospitality to others whether they are the same as us or different. I have been involved in interfaith work with our Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester since it was founded 18 years ago by Afzal Khan and the late Henry Guterman. From our dialogue and holding 145 diverse events, we see our faiths and cultures have so much in common; but there are also differences, and we should embrace our differences as it is diversity which enriches our lives.

In the spirit of Adam Day, we can all play our part by celebrating our diversity and stand united at all times, especially in times of need.

In conclusion, whether we are similar or different, we are part of G-d's family and we are all descended from Adam. So we should welcome each other, help each other, learn from each other and unite together to make our world a much happier and more peaceful place.


Recording of the event

You can watch a recording of the full event below. Heather is introduced at 59:23 and speaks afterwards.



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

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