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PM celebrates Jewish 350

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2006-06-14

Tony Blair at Bevis Marks

Tony Blair

Prime Minister Tony Blair has taken part in a special ceremony to mark the 350th anniversary of Jews being readmitted to England.

The event, which took place at the Bevis Marks Synagogue in the City of London, saw the Prime Minister reflecting the contribution Jews have made to British society and the way in which they have integrated as part of the wider community.

"As the oldest minority faith community in this country, you show how identity through faith can be combined with a deep loyalty to our nation," he said. "It has never been easy, as you know, for the Jewish people - but what courage and resolution. So much suffering yet so much capacity to renew in the face of it. So much persecution yet so much determination to conquer it."

Speaking to the congregation which included the Chief Rabbi, Members of Parliament and representatives from other religious communities, Rabbi Dr Abraham Levy OBE, spiritual head of the Spanish & Portuguese Jews’ Congregation said:  "We thank God for 350 happy years the Jews have enjoyed in this country.  Is there another Jewish community in Europe that can boast of such a blessing?".

He added: "Which other European country has a synagogue dating from 1701 where Jewish prayer has never ceased to be recited in freedom and tranquility?  I always repeat from this pulpit on such occasions that this country has been good to the Jews and the Jews have been good to this country."