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Taking part

by: Rebekah Gronowski - Last updated: 2005-07-08

Make Poverty History

Make Poverty History

Last Saturday, 2nd July 2005, was a memorable occasion for Scotland, the Jewish Coalition, the two Jewish Communities in Edinburgh and for me personally.

The weekend began for us on the Friday when our various Communities held Erev Shabbat Services and then came together in the Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation Synagogue to share a Shabbat Meal. Our Orthodox friends gave us a very warm welcome and a superb meal. There were about seventy people sitting together from different traditions and quite a gathering of six Rabbis. It was a time of great enjoyment and one which enabled us all to get to know each other before the main event on the following day.

Saturday dawned – a perfect setting for the day to come -  sunny, hot and with blue skies. We held our Shabbat Services and all joined together for Kiddush afterwards. At 1.15 p.m. we began our walk towards our specified assembly point in the Meadows in the heart of Edinburgh. We queued from around 1.30 p.m. until about 4.20 p.m., edging forward very slowly until we reached the final point of Middle Meadow Walk to start the March Route proper. This must have been a tremendous sight from the air – thousands of people converging from seven different points on the Meadows to the one point going into Forrest Road which was the start of the march. Everyone was wearing white, many of us in our specially-produced white 'Make Poverty History' kippot and some of us with our 'Make Poverty History – Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community' and the colourful 'South London Progressive Synagogue' and 'Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue' banners, produced by the Cheder and Young People's group of both Communities. The point of wearing white was that we would surround the centre of Edinburgh around the Castle with a sea of white which, from the air, looked like a white band round the City.

You had to be there to experience the atmosphere; it was almost a carnival atmosphere, although the message was a serious one, that of drawing attention to the G8 leaders the problem of debt-making poverty in Africa and other countries which were being weighed down by debt which rendered them helpless to rise out of it to make a living at even a minimum level. I think the Make Poverty History March made our Leaders at the G8 aware that none of us will tolerate injustice and needless poverty in the world.

The camaraderie and friendliness which threaded itself right through the whole day was tremendous! The march itself only took around an hour and we returned to the Meadows just in time for the Oneg Shabbat in the Contempl8tion Tent where we found Clive Lawton in full swing talking to a packed tent – people of all faiths and none – all joined together to enjoy a 'taste of Shabbat'. We all sand 'Hevenu Shalom Aleichem' together and were then encouraged to meet and greet complete strangers – a truly wonderful and memorable day!