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Press Release- Rabbis and Cantors Sound Wakeup Call on Social Justice

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Speaker of the House of Commons, The Rt Hon John Bercow MP, will host the launch of Tzelem - a unique cross-denominational Jewish clerical campaign group on Wednesday 28th January. Dedicated to speaking out against injustice, Tzelem will reassert Judaism’s rich and vibrant tradition of social justice activism.

The launch will consist of an address by the Speaker and rabbis and cantors presenting their vision for a just society, by raising concerns about issues such as child poverty, mental health and special needs provisions, and homelessness. The rabbis and cantors will then sound shofarot as a wakeup call to urgent actions on matters of social and economic justice in the UK.

The Speaker, The Rt Hon John Bercow MP said “I welcome the initiative by Tzelem to speak up for the cause of social justice. This is a non-partisan campaign designed to highlight some of the endemic problems that the country faces and to argue for policies which will tackle injustice and promote greater opportunity and social mobility.”

Student Rabbi Robyn Ashworth Steen, one of the group's founding members, said it was time to take a stand: "We see increasing child poverty, food poverty and malnutrition; greater disparity between the wealthy and the poor; the creation of an underclass denied access to support because of cuts in legal aid; and the withdrawal of funds from charities. This is not acceptable. It’s time we woke up to this injustice.”

Tzelem is founded on the Jewish principle that we are all created b’tzelem Elokim - in the image of God. Tzelem is inspired by Jewish teaching and a long tradition of fighting social and economic injustice. This tradition dates from the Hebrew prophets to the American civil rights movement and anti-apartheid campaigns in South Africa, both of which included a strong Jewish presence.

Dr Edie Friedman, director of JCORE (the Jewish Council for Racial Equality) welcomed the initiative. She said "It's so important to have positive Jewish voices commenting on the social issues affecting Britain today. If we remain silent in the face of injustice, we distance ourselves from it. "


Note to editors

· For more information, or for rabbinic comment on this press release, please contact Rabbi Lea Muehlstein on 07980 197 779 or

· For general information, or for a rabbinic comment on any current social issues, please email

· Tzelem was conceived in late 2013 to organise Jewish clerical voices on social and economic justice issues in the UK. It is unique in its conception as a clerical cross-communal campaigning organization. It is founded on the Jewish principle that we are all created b’tzelem Elohim – in the image of God. Tzelem seeks to continue the proud Jewish social activist tradition by taking action and providing a critique to the problems at the root of our society, our economy and our treatment of the vulnerable.

· Tzelem is the UK’s first and only organisation for rabbis and cantors from all Jewish denominations (Orthodox, Spanish and Portuguese, Masorti, Reform and Liberal). Through Tzelem rabbis and cantors in the UK will be able to contribute a unique Jewish voice to the public discourse. Tzelem will be working in partnership with other faith groups, charities, partner organisations and key individuals. Tzelem will engage with the decision makers in our country as well as with the press and will provide a central point of contact for them.

· Shofarot are trumpets made of ram's horns. They were blown by the ancient Hebrews during religious ceremonies and as a signal in battle. They are now sounded in the synagogue during Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and at the end of Yom Kippur. In the Tanach (Hebrew Bible) the shofar sound is portrayed as powerful enough to even make the walls of Jericho fall.

· Full launch details:

Wednesday 28th January 2015, 10am to noon, State Rooms, Speaker’s House, House of Commons.

Attendance by invitation only.

Attendees include MPs, Peers, rabbis and cantors and community leaders.

· A post-launch press release, including pictures from the event, will be distributed on by no later than 28th January, 4pm.

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