'We are thinking more as individuals who are firmly part of society'

Rabbi David Mason

David Mason is proud of the Muswell Hill Welcomes project - Credit: Muswell Hill Synagogue

It is difficult to escape the fact that we are living through worrying times. Whether it is public health, the economy and our livelihoods, our mental health, we face multiple challenges. And many of us feel that there is much more that our government could do to alleviate all this; and that many years denuding the landscape of public services has greatly contributed to these difficulties.

But in the face of all that, there is a growing realisation that we all function as a part of society where we need to work mutually, together, in collaboration. Society is clearly not dead – it is in fact alive and well.

I have recently been quoting a story from an ancient Jewish text where in a boat full of passengers, one individual decides to bore a hole under his or her seat.

The others remonstrate with him, but the passenger is clear: "This is my seat, I can do what I want with it."

Does this passenger have a point? Maybe. But what is clear is that he or she has not considered his or her place within the wider group, and the damage that can be done by this individualist act.

And so, through this pandemic, we are thinking more and more as individuals who are firmly part of society whether local or national.

I have been so proud to have seen the Muswell Hill Welcomes project blossom, bringing the Muswell Hill Synagogue, Muswell Hill Methodist Church and Wightman Road Mosque together.

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Influenced by my work chairing the Haringey Multi-Faith Network, this joint project has helped asylum seekers in Muswell Hill feel welcomed, supported and has built human relationships with them.

This has come from our sense of societal responsibility for the other and desire for mutual support. But it has also come from a sense of shared human love. Some would say that is over idealistic. I would say it is quickly becoming the need of the time – a sense of mutual responsibility and compassion.

Wishing all Ham&High readers a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.

David Mason is rabbi of Muswell Hill Synagogue is chair of Haringey Multi-Faith Network.