Alf Keeling Lecture 2018. Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen is Associate Rabbi at Manchester Reform Synagogue. The talk was entitled :
‘Interfaith in Action: Loving the Stranger Within’
A short report on the event by AIG Hon. Secretary Carolyn Jones
This year’s Alf Keeling Memorial Lecture was a truly interactive experience and very different from all previous events; Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen from the Manchester Reform Synagogue engaged with her audience, shooting out questions and getting a wide variety of responses from people of all faiths, making it a stimulating and interesting event. Her theme was “Loving the Stranger Within” and there was a lot of discussion about the definition of the word “neighbour” and about being a “wanderer,” especially in relation to being Jewish as Jews have a history of wandering even from the time of Abraham. The Bible tells the Jews to love the stranger for they were strangers in the land of Egypt, thus we all have a duty to love the stranger and be empathic to them, be they immigrants or foreigners, and try to cross the divide between them and us. Rabbi Robyn said that being a wanderer is part of being human - feeling apart from other people – and that we should all see ourselves as wanderers with no distinction between them and us. She discussed work by Etty Hillesum (1914-1943) who died in Auschwitz and was an example of compassion and also Hannah Arendt who was a Jewish political theorist. She closed by urging us to first love ourselves and then to love the stranger. There was then a lively question and answer time and finally refreshments were served.
We thank Mr Driscoll of St Ambrose Preparatory School for allowing us the use of the hall and all those who helped to make the evening a great success.
Carolyn Jones (Hon. Sec., Altrincham Interfaith Group)