By Henry Grunwald OBE QC
World Jewish Relief President
When I think about the long history of World Jewish Relief, I imagine how the founders of the then Central British Fund would view the organisation today. I’d like to think that they would be as proud of it as I am.
I try and take every opportunity both within and without the Jewish community to talk about our work, and explain what the “Jewish” bit of World Jewish Relief actually means, because, to me, our work is everything that being Jewish should mean. We look after our own, as we should, but we also look after the non-Jewish world, as we should, and we do it because it’s the right thing to do, but we also do it because we need to show the world that Jews are not as inward- looking as many think we are.
A few years ago, I did a session on this topic at Limmud - a very challenging session - but I’m glad to say it had a very positive effect. Three people came and spoke to me at its conclusion. One was a lapsed supporter, who had lapsed because of our work in the non-Jewish sector. He told me I’d changed his mind.
The second was an about-to-become Trustee of World Jewish Relief, whom I’d not yet met and did not realise had been in the audience. He said that he was now even more enthused about becoming a Trustee.
It’s the third whose words will always remain with me, and I will respect that person’s anonymity by referring to him/her as X. X waited until there was no-one else about and then said that X was really glad he/she had been there because X was half-way through conversion to Judaism but had had second thoughts as X had been coming to the conclusion that Jews and Judaism were too insular. However, having heard about the principles and work of World Jewish Relief X was so relieved that he/she had decided to go through with the conversion.
We are a fantastic people, and World Jewish Relief shows us at our best.