President of Jersey's Jewish Community, Stephen Regal reflects on inclusivity, King Charles III, and the twin tragedies to have hit Jersey in recent weeks in today's seasonal greeting...
As we all celebrate Christmas 2022 - and I deliberately use the term “all”, because I feel qualified to use such an inclusive term, particularly as I do not follow the Christian Faith, as I am of the Jewish Faith and Christmas is not one of our festivals - we are all united with a sense of grief and heartbreak as a result of the twin tragedies that the entire community of Jersey has experienced during the period of running up to the wonderful celebration of Christmas.
I have increasingly grown to admire and respect His Majesty King Charles III over the years, as a result of his forward thinking upon such diverse issues such as nurturing our planet, his approach to the ecological damage that we are causing and the associated disasters that we are creating, his approach to modern sustainable farming on his Duchy of Cornwall Estates and indeed his sometimes controversial comments upon modern architecture, which undeniably have turned out to be accurate and perceptive.
To some, another apparently divisive comment, with which I fully agree, is his view that, although he is the titular head of the Church of England, King Charles has previously viewed himself as Defender of Faiths, not solely as Defender of THE Faith (my emphasis upon “the”).
Pictured: "King Charles has previously viewed himself as Defender of Faiths, not solely as Defender of THE Faith"
The singular observation upon Defender of the Faith can, to some, appear exclusive, whereas no real Faith is, or should be, exclusive, all true faiths need not fear inclusivity, thus by definition, Faith is an inclusive process.
Consequently, as a member of that which at first glance, appears to be a minority Faith, I do not feel in any manner whatever, excluded nor marginalized. In the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious Britain or Jersey for that matter, in which I choose to live, I feel very comfortable in my own Faith. Far from it, I feel included by all who make up our society.
During the course of my leadership of the Jersey Jewish Community for which I have enjoyed the privilege for more than 20 years, I attend many Faith gatherings in both religious and social contexts and the more instances that I attend and mix with others of Faith, the greater that I am impressed that any perceived differences between mankind, are just that, merely perceived. The more profound that one might choose to investigate, the more one realises that essentially, we are all one people. Any differences are minor and indeed somewhat artificial.
Pictured: "During the course of my leadership of the Jersey Jewish Community... I am impressed that any perceived differences between mankind, are just that, merely perceived"
Consequently, I too can enjoy the spirit of Christmas in the same manner as the rest of the entire population, and sadly we too can all unite together with the sense of communal loss following the dreadful events of December 2022 together with our fellow citizens at this very special time of the year. For us all to think of those who so sadly perished, their friends and relatives who must remain in deep shock and we too can ask ourselves, how we may help at this time of bereavement?
There is, of course, practical help, the channels for which have been well-publicised and there is also the simple fact that they know that we stand with them in their time of need and we can offer a kind thought or just an arm around the shoulder as physical and mental support.
So, may I wish everyone reading this thought today, notwithstanding the events of the past weeks, to those of many Faiths and those of none, the best Christmas possible and indeed a joyful Chanukah.
I hope that the passage of time shall mitigate the void that is felt by us all, especially those who have lost loved ones. May we all enjoy a better New Year in 2023 that brings to all peace and healing and in time, every good thing that we can wish for all in health and happiness.
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