A leading British rabbi addressed a special European People’s Party conference in Venice, Italy, on Thursday.
Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, chairman of the Rabbinical Council in the UK and leader of the Mill Hill synagogue, told the EPP: “Engaging religion as part of a political process in looking to change the landscape of civilisation is not just advisable – it is vital.”
The conference was organised in order to encourage greater dialogue between the EPP – the largest European-level party of the continent – and Religious institutions.
This was the first time a Rabbi was invited along to put forth the Jewish viewpoint.
In keeping with the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s theme and instruction, Rabbi Schochet seized the opportunity to mention the 7 Noahide Laws as well.
“These are core principles that infuse the next generation with a greater sense of respect, reverence and responsibility,” he said.
“‘Don’t Kill,’ ‘Don’t Steal,’ ‘Don’t Commit Adultery,’ extend well beyond their obvious connotation. They imply a deeper respect for a fellow human being, for one’s property and the paramount importance of family life.
“‘Don’t take a limb from a living animal,’ goes to the very heart of man’s greater duty of being caretaker of G-d’s world – something extremely important to consider when discussing the central concerns appertaining to climate change.
“More spiritual leaders need to put that message out there in order to better maintain kinder societies and a universal harmony. All these laws underpinned of course by the first – a basic belief in G-d – the recognition of religion as a backbone to civilisation.”
Schochet also urged the 150 strong audience made up of members of the European Parliament, Archbishops and media that they should stop viewing Judaism as the victim religion – survivors of the Holocaust, victims of persecution, pogroms and modern-day Anti Semitism.
“Judaism is anything but a victim religion. If it was, it would have died out long before the rise of Nazism, communism, indeed it would have likely ended before it began, back in Egypt more than three thousand years ago.
“But it is still here to tell the tale. And it is still here because Judaism is anything but a victim. We have taught civilisation the importance of social responsibility, love and peace as the foundation of justice – a faith that comes out fighting each and every time – not just for itself but for the weak and the poor and the oppressed wherever they may be found.
“We never sat humbly and passively, to accept the world as it is. That is not what the Jewish patriarchs and the Jewish Sages through the ages did. They raged against the injustices of the world. They even argued with G-d Himself.”
Concluding his remarks in what was described by numerous attendees as a riveting speech, Schcohet said: “A world without Judaism would be an emptier place. When looking to define values – when looking to enhance the moral fabric of society – to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, Judaism has to be one of those voices adding its critical note to the choir in every which way.”