The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester
Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish communities of Greater Manchester
7 June 2015
As we were established in 2005, we commemorated our 10th anniversary with a glittering dinner on Sunday 7 June 2015 hosted by Manchester Town Hall and attended by many civic dignitaries.
The dinner had two keynote speakers.
There were many prominent guests, including the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester who is the Queen’s official representative in Greater Manchester, the Lord Mayor of Manchester and the Bishop of Manchester.
We were particularly pleased that Mark Guterman and Hayley Guterman, respectively son and granddaughter of our late Co-Founder Henry Guterman MBE were present at the dinner, along with our other Co-Founder Afzal Khan CBE MEP who was Manchester’s first Muslim Lord Mayor.
The Master of Ceremonies officiating at the dinner was Jonny Wineberg, a past Co-Chair of the Forum, while the kosher catering was provided by Michael Issler’s JS Restaurant.
Welcoming the guests, Co-Chair Mohammed Amin said “As the title of the dinner gives away, we really were founded 10 years ago. For me, the quality of the guests we have tonight shows how far we have come in that time.”
Co-Chair Heather Fletcher gave the dinner guests a short history of the Forum’s first 10 years which is reproduced below, pointing out "I believe that mixing together and getting to know each other is the best way to achieve community cohesion. It is ignorance and fear which causes suspicion and intolerance but it is understanding and bonding which promotes peace and harmony."
The Chief Rabbi and Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra each gave very insightful and moving speeches.
In particular, the Chief Rabbi reminded us “One cannot have peace without communication.”
Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra said “Before we are Jewish or Muslim, we are all human beings. Before I can be a good Muslim, I first have to be a good human being. We must promote mutual respect and ensure that we do not tarnish entire communities for the actions of a few.”
The dinner had a 20 page brochure which included the Forum's history, some highlights of its activities from the first 10 years, a poem about religion, the menu, the official guests etc.
The group photograph below has from left to right:
Below is a photograph of the Chief Rabbi and Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra embracing.
The official photographer for the event, Mr Howard Barlow, has posted 78 photographs from the evening on his website which are available for purchase.
Good evening ladies, gentlemen and distinguished guests. It is fitting that our 10th Anniversary Dinner is taking place in our beautiful Town Hall as it was in this same prestigious venue that the initial meeting of Muslims and Jews took place in August 2004. It was co- hosted by the then Deputy Lord Mayor Afzal Khan and the late Henry Guterman. It was this meeting which led to the formal incorporation of our Forum in June 2005
The Forum’s objective was to develop cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish communities in Greater Manchester and I feel that through holding 75 diverse events in the past ten years, the Forum has played a part in helping our two communities become acquainted with each other .Before the advent of our Forum, I would say there was little or no interaction between our two communities. It has been gratifying for me to see a hard core of a dozen regulars blossom into a mailing list of over 500 people. Before I joined the Forum, I had just one Muslim friend, who was a workmate. I knew very little about Islam and I had never visited a Mosque. In the past decade, not only have I visited many Mosques and learned about Islam but I have also learned more about my own religion so I could explain things to my Muslim friends.
Since 2005 we have held many social events such as our legendary annual picnic, which earlier this year was actually featured in a national newspaper! I am not saying which one though! We also hold an annual lawyers event and have held several business networking events. There have been numerous meals out together, two big music concerts, Eid parties, after the fast parties and winter festive parties and some of us have even been on overseas holidays together to visit places of Muslim and Jewish interest. Indeed ten days ago six of us were in Brussels.
However, these past ten years have not been just one long party!
Muslims and Jewish people in our Forum have joined together for several important issues. We have been powerful allies against those who have sought to divide us such as the far right, initially in the form of the BNP and latterly in the form of the EDL .We have acted together in a very practical way against assaults on our ancient practices such as circumcision and especially religious slaughter. Last year a counter petition was commenced by our Co Chair Mohammed Amin in response to a petition brought by the British Veterinary Association to end non stun slaughter. Amin’s petition was signed by over 130,000 people, mainly Muslims and Jews, in just 10 days. There was a debate in Parliament relating to this issue in which Amin’s counter petition was mentioned several times.
We have also held “Twinning Events” between Synagogues and Mosques whereby we attended Friday Jummah prayers at the Mosque and the following morning attended Shabbat Morning prayers at the Synagogue. Finally, we have organised several food collections to help the poor and needy in our society.
I have two main highlights. This January, on the 20th Anniversary of my mother’s passing; I was elected to be the Forum’s Co Chair. I know Mum would have been proud of me and I know that she would be pleased that I am no longer the unhappy, negative person she left behind, which is due in some part to the Forum which has enriched my life so much.
In January 2014, our Forum won a British Muslim Award for “Spirit of Britain” at a National Award Ceremony. I was so excited and emotional when I went on the stage to collect the Award on behalf of the Forum with Afzal Khan that I said “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe we won”-in hindsight I wish I would have made a more original and eloquent acceptance speech!
Our Forum was Co founded by the late Henry Guterman and Afzal Khan MEP. Sadly, Henry passed away but I am delighted that Henry’s son Mark and grand daughter Hayley are here tonight. Without the insight, drive and determination of these two special men, Henry and Afzal, there would have been no Muslim Jewish Forum. I would also like to thank the hard working Executive Committee, without them, there would be no one to organise our events. Finally, I would like to thank all our members and supporters, as without you, the Forum would certainly not have lasted ten years.
I believe that mixing together and getting to know each other is the best way to achieve community cohesion.
It is ignorance and fear which causes suspicion and intolerance but it is understanding and bonding which promotes peace and harmony.
I would now like to introduce Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra. He is of Indian origin and was born in Malawi .He migrated to the UK when he was 18 and he currently serves as an Imam and Scholar in Leicester.
Shaykh Mogra was trained in classical theology and the traditional sciences of Islam. He holds religious credentials from Darul-Ulum, Holcombe as well as advanced theological qualifications from Al-Azhar University in Cairo and the School of Oriental and African studies in London.
Shaykh Mogra has served as an Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain since 2008 and has been at the forefront of interfaith relations in the UK and worldwide.
Shaykh Mogra has connections to our other keynote speaker, the Chief Rabbi. After the Chief Rabbi was appointed, but before his Inauguration, he held an event for leaders of the British Muslim community at his Finchley Synagogue and Shaykh Mogra gave a response at that event on behalf of the British Muslim leaders. Furthermore, Shaykh Mogra attended the Chief Rabbi’s Inauguration along with Prince Charles and other dignitaries and tweeted about the occasion.
I am sure that he will have many more interesting things to tell you.
The event gained excellent press coverage, further spreading our message of harmony between Muslims and Jews. Some examples are the coverage in:
The Muslim Jewish Forum is a strong supporter of the We Stand Together campaign coordinated locally by Greater Manchester Police. Their Newsletter 7 featured the Forum's dinner as well as the work of Faith Network 4 Manchester, who partner with us on certain events such as the multifaith iftar.
The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester
Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish Communities of Greater Manchester