All over the country, people from Britain’s Muslim and Jewish communities have been getting together and posting ‘Love Actually’ videos sharing all that they have in common in the lead-up to The Great Get Together this weekend.
The idea – inspired by the words of the late Jo Cox MP, who was tragically murdered one year ago this month, “we have more in common than that which divides us” – aims to build closer ties between the two communities by celebrating what they share.
Imam Qari Asim of Leeds Makkah Mosque and Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz of Sinai Synagogue in Leeds talked about their love of “God’s own country” Yorkshire, their toddlers and a shared passion for food – plus a mutual aversion to bacon sandwiches.
Imam Qari Asim said:
“There isn’t enough contact between our Muslim and Jewish communities, even though we have much in common.
“It was very moving to see how people from all backgrounds came together recently to show unity after the horrific attacks in London and Manchester. But uniting in the wake of terror and tragedy is not enough, if afterwards we retreat and lose touch. We need to keep it up, to maintain those links and to cherish all that we share together.”
Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz of Leeds Sinai Synagogue said:
“For most people going about their busy everyday lives, there just aren’t many opportunities to sit down and have a conversation with someone from a different background.
“The more we meet and talk, the more we find out how many things we share.
“Some of those conversations will start this weekend at The Great Get Together and I hope they continue long afterwards. If they’re anything like making this video, people will find it incredibly good fun.”
Usman Ali from Wakefield, a Muslim, and Harry Brackup and Ruby Cole from Leeds, both Jewish, uncovered a common bond as all three work in youth social action – and also all love football and a good curry.
Usman Ali, a 23-year old community activist from Wakefield, said:
“We wanted to do something for the Great Get Together that would bring different people together and find out how much we have in common. The horrific events in Manchester and London have really brought home why this is so important right now.
“You look at two people from different communities – a Muslim and a Jew – and you make certain assumptions about them. Maybe we make some assumptions about each other too. But we’re really not very different at all.
“I feel that this is a great way to remove barriers within our society, it is a great way to promote community cohesion and social integration. I feel that there is something in common between us all, which is to work together with people from different walks of life to promote peace, love and harmony. We all need to work and live together for the sake of Humanity”.
Ruby, from Leeds, said:
“Meeting Usman was really inspiring. We spoke about the youth work we have both done in our different communities and all about our faiths. It was really empowering coming together and identifying our similarities, regardless of how society puts us all into separate boxes.
“It was beautiful seeing how similar our intentions are within our different enclaves. All we both want, in our divided worlds, is peace together. I hope us coming together inspires other people to do the same.”
The Great Get Together takes place between the 16-18 June and will be the biggest community celebration since the Jubilee. It invites people to get together with their neighbours to share food and celebrate all that we hold in common – whether at a street party or a shared barbecue, a picnic or a bake off. You can find more information at www.greatgettogether.org