The World Faith Blog

World Faith: The Interfaith Service Network

The Power of Unity: Religious Pluralism in the U.K. 6 July , 2011

Every year two thousand Jews in Britain head for a University in the middle of the country for Limmud. This is a cross community education experience with hundreds of different workshops on Jewish religion, life and culture which happens to take place over the Christmas holiday period. It feels wonderfully countercultural to be learning Judaism when the rest of the country is enjoying the rather secularised British Christmas. The University obligingly takes down the Christmas trees and the tinsel for us and a corner of England becomes Jerusalem for a week.

Generally though Britain is a multicultural society. The Government’s National Curriculum requires children to experience religious education throughout their school career. This begins, even in places where there are hardly any Jews, with children in most elementary schools lighting Hanukkah candles, learning about Diwali, the Hindu festival and Eid, the Muslim end of Ramadan, together with putting on the school Nativity Play telling the birth narrative of Jesus. It means that the majority of British children, even if religion plays very little part in their own family life, end up knowing a little about all of the larger religious groups in the country.

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