Chag Pesach Sameach

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My daughter was really upset last night when she looked at her calendar. “How can we celebrate Ramadan without our family?” She like many children from different faith groups are having this conversation, Easter eggs hunts have been cancelled, Sri Lankan and Tamil New year celebrations halted and this week Passover begins for the Jewish communities across the country but this year will be like no other.

In these difficult and concerning times for our nation, it seems out of place to talk or write about anything other than the pandemic gripping our country, but I think it’s important that we continue to find moments of hope and joy, and it is in this vein I would like to wish everyone “Chag Pesach Sameach”.

It has been a challenging few years for the Jewish community, with anti-Semitism on the resurgence in our society, including at the highest echelons of power. As a Muslim, I can strongly empathise with being made to feel like you don’t belong. As we commemorate the Jewish exodus from Egypt, we must ensure that our society never resembles the one established by the Pharoahs, where the Jewish minority was exploited and discriminated against.

This isn’t the easiest time to be commemorating a religious festival. Our nation is facing an unprecedented crisis, and our attentions will be focused on supporting the most vulnerable around us. As a Muslim, I will be in the same boat as the holy month of Ramadan begins in a couple of weeks, and I have myself been thinking about how I will be spending the month, in the absence of communal rituals. These festivals are usually meant to be times for families and communities to come together and share in what is most important. To lose this, at this most challenging of times, will not be easy. We must not underestimate the impact that this loss will have on already isolated individuals, some of whom may be vulnerable to mental health issues.

I am proud, that the Lib Dems have been at the forefront of recognising the mental health implications of self-isolation, leading the recent cross-party call for improved mental health support. With our party’s rich tradition of community activism, we are particularly aware of the importance of communities coming together, and of the social and psychological disruptions which stem from this not being possible.  Despite this, it has been heartening to see how the last few weeks have brought wonderful displays of community solidarity to the fore, whether it’s communities organising applause for our brave health workers, or mutual aid groups being set up around the country to provide help to those who need it most.

Let’s capitalise on this community spirit this Passover, and make sure we reach out to our Jewish colleagues, neighbours and friends. Whilst Passover may not be the same for them this year, we can all play our part to make it a more special occasion.

* Cllr Hina Bokhari is a candidate for the London Assembly.

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2 Comments

  • There’s also A Christian Festival this weekend in case you’ve missed it Hana.

  • Gary:
    Yep, and there are Shri Lankan and Tamil festivals too – see the first paragraph of Hina’s piece.

    But I’m not sure that too many Christians in this country have to cope with anti-Christian prejudice.

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