Response to Jewish Telegraph article criticising the community and the Rep Council

Any reader of your newspaper last weekend would have been left confused by the fact that you initially ran a column by Adam Cailler, which strongly criticised the Jewish Community and the Jewish Representative Council in particular for failing to support a Manchester City Centre vigil in memory of the victims of the Pittsburgh Synagogue massacre.

However, just a few pages later, Simon Yaffe reported on a well-attended, dignified, candlelight vigil which took place at Shaare Sedek synagogue in Hale that was attended by many members of the community as well as civic leaders including the Mayor and High Sheriff of Greater Manchester.

Following the news of the massacre in Pittsburgh, it had been the intention of the Representative Council to arrange a memorial event in the same way as we arranged one last year to honour the memory of the victims of the Manchester bombing. However, we became aware of two other events being arranged and we felt that it would not be appropriate to show solidarity with the victims by having three competing events.

We felt the need to show a strong message of solidarity and that this would be best done by supporting one event. The candlelight vigil was being arranged from within our community and the focus was on the victims and therefore we chose to support that event.

We contacted the organisers as soon as we became aware of the event in order to help them publicise it and offered our support. At that point we ceased trying to arrange our own event and our President, Sharon Bannister, spoke on behalf of the community at the vigil. We were not the only organisation to make that decision. The Mayor of Greater Manchester, the High Sheriff, Greater Manchester Police and several local Mayors all chose to only attend the Shaare Sedek vigil.

Adam questioned why the Jewish Representative Council did not organise the Manchester vigil, when in other Cities similar events had been organised by their Representative Councils. Manchester is blessed to have a large number of community minded individuals and organisations that take it upon themselves to arrange events for the community. On such occasions, the Jewish Representative Council aims not to compete but rather to offer these organisations our full support and assistance in order to ensure their success for the Community. On this occasion, we liaised with the organisers of the vigil, provided our full support and helped promote it as widely as possible within a very tight timeframe.

Contrary to what Adam reported, our Community responded appropriately to a Communal event in memory of the Pittsburgh victims and the Jewish Representative Council was fully engaged in supporting this event for and on behalf of our Jewish Community.

Jacky Buchsbaum                                           Sharon Bannister

Chair of the Jewish Representative             President of the Jewish Representative

Council of Greater Manchester & Region   Council of Greater Manchester & Region