Holocaust Memorial Day does seem to be making a difference:
This morning, I went for a walk with a friend to Prestwich Clough, a nearby beauty spot, which for some reason I'd never visited before:
My friend needed to sit down for a bit, so we knocked at the door of the local MP, Ivan Lewis, and were welcomed in by one of his aides, who couldn't do enough to assist her. And we aren't even his constituents!
Then, when we got back, I looked at my correspondence and found an amazing email from the Muslim-Christian Forum. They are very upset at the increase in antisemitic grafitti which keeps on appearing in our area, and will be preaching sermons against this hate crime both in local churches and mosques.
And in fact, the local co-chair will be coming to see me next week. What a great thing to happen
I turned on the TV and found, to my utter astonishment, that, at a time of recession and general gloom, the government is thinking of banning alcohol for the under-15s.
To me, this is even worse than the antisemitic grafitti. At least in that case, it is somewhat expected in the current climate (you know - unemployment, recession, Gaza, etc etc), but to ban alcohol to young teenagers and children will be the utter death of the Jewish community as we know it.
No kiddush at shul; no Shabbatot, no chagim: no 4 cups at Pesach, no Purim and no Simchat Torah. I even used to teach about Judaism by alerting people to the fantastic Purim parades that take place in our area in February or March. Even the police know that we are completely out of it at that time, and even more so on Simchat Torah.
What I can't understand is that, given the increasing importance of RE in the curriculum (including lessons on Judaism), surely the government cannot seriously be suggesting that this aspect of our life, the one thing that makes us feel happy when all around is caving in anarchically (not to mention the Burns supper at shul last Sunday) is going to become ILLEGAL as a pedagogic tool in the teaching of Jewish values.
But maybe herein lies the solution to the current impasse between the Catholic Church and the Jewish community world-wide. If the Pope could intervene, say, with Gordon Brown on this issue, and the worrisome edict be somehow halted, then maybe, only maybe mind you, this might go some of the way to repairing the damage caused by that Church to their 'elder brother', as the late Pope referred to us.
Come to think of it, wouldn't this be the perfect new role for Tony Blair? It was he who was largely responsible for the instigation of Holocaust Memorial Day. He is a Catholic. He is popular with the Jewish community. Like all sane people, he is very keen on peace in the Middle East. Need I go on ....