Much esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen, esteemed colleagues. I am Aharon Soudry representing Glasgow Jewish Community. A great deal of this Exchange program is about Social Justice. Among the fields dealt with were those of: Immigration, Religious Minorities, and Community Justice. The Retreat at the Rabbi T Marshall Meyer was crammed with such important topics, mainly immigration. How apt to have named it “from Estrangement to Engagement”! A poignant title that encapsulates the whole concept. It is clear that all the agencies we visited and interacted with, have a common goal and identical leitmotiv: Abolishment of estrangement by encouraging all the vulnerable elements of society – be they illegal immigrants or discriminated against employees – to come out and contact the many organizations set up to help them. The fear is that by doing so they will expose themselves and it would backfire on them. To this effect the governing bodies do abide by the data protection act and I know that some of their officials have been sworn to secrecy. The engagement is also done via the panoply of faith leaders who are encouraged to come and learn about the logistic support available.
This is done also with the help of NYPD, the NY Human Rights Commissioner Patricia Gatling and the D.A’s office within its Immigrant Affairs Program led by Joane, Daisy and Leroy. There is a general positive feeling that everybody is anxious to spread the Gospel and the message that help/support is available, please come and get it. I found it remarkable that dialogues such as the “Roundtables” at he D.A’s office, initiated I understand by the NY Interfaith Center, are very popular and representatives from all faiths, minorities and ethnic groups come together to share their experiences. I know everybody leaves the workshops considerably more enriched, thereby contributing to the better administration of social justice.
I should like to see similar actions taken in Scotland in order to protect those who are vulnerable, with the assistance and active participation of faith leaders, Strathclyde Police, City Councils etc.