I first came into contact with Canon George Conger through Ruth Gledhill. After the stormy debacle of the Anglican Consultative Council vote to divest from Israel, and despite all our best efforts and the fact that my two analyses of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network report on their deliberations on Jerusalem (September 2004) had been looked over by Ruth, the Bishop of Bolton and diocesan interfaith advisor, Steve Williams, the Jewish community had still not been heeded. Ruth then put me in touch with two American bloggers, who, she said, were the only people who were speaking sense at the moment.
On one of these I found George Conger's name and details and got in touch. And that was one of the best things I have done in my life. Because George is a tower of strength. He contacted me the following Monday by phone (the fateful day had been a Friday: I will never forget it: like Kennedy's murder, Diana's death, the more recent pro-divestment Synod vote etc etc) and told me that he wrote for two newspapers, and the English one was interested in me writing an article about how it felt as a Jew in Britain today to learn about the divestment vote by the Anglican Church.
So I wrote The Anglican Church and Divestment from Israel for the Church of England Newspaper and even got paid for it - eventually. But the relationship with George, which is purely an e-mail one, as we have never met, has gone from strength to strength, as I introduced him to many of the Jewish spokespeople in this country and am thrilled that he is now working for the Jerusalem Post as well as for papers in the USA and of course the CEN.
Whoever said that you can't trust journalists. I tell him absolutely everything and all the frustrations we have in the Jewish community and he tells me all about what he thinks of the various English Bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury (who he rates very highly), also about Lord Carey, who he also rates highly, and others.
George is, without having met him, without a doubt the most noble Anglican/Episcopelian with whom I have ever had contact, and he knows absolutely everything there is to know about the Church.
I feel it an honour to know him and to work with him, and what he said all those months ago, in fact just about a year ago, is so true. 'If journalists can't get access to the powers-that-be in the Jewish community', he said, 'They will come to you'. And how right he was.
What an eternity one year is, for it was on June exactly one year ago that I received the fateful call from Ruth Gledhill that the ACC had passed that wicked motion, except for the Dean of St. Paul's, that is, and the only hope now lay with the conservatives in the USA and their blogs. Did I know what a blog was? I certainly didn't. And yet I now have my own, but that is another story.
And a week after that, 7/7 happened. Surely no coincidence. Appeasement breeds disaster.
So, George Conger - who can trace your family back to the Pilgrim Fathers - I hope on reading this that you will realise how much we appreciate what you have done. And I really do hope we meet one day and I can tell you what I think of you face to face. For we in the Jewish community owe you an enormous debt of gratitude. Of that there is absolutely no doubt.