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House of Commons Speaker Shares Shabbat with Students

Wednesday, 9 June, 2010 - 1:49 pm

bercow.jpgStudents, faculty and community members converged on the Oxford Chabad Society last week to celebrate a historic Friday night meal with the first Jewish speaker of the House of Commons, Mr. John Bercow, MP.

Bercow joined Parliament as the MP for Buckingham following the 1997 General Election. After filling various roles in the Conservative’s shadow cabinet, he was elected to the office of speaker in June 2009, and was subsequently re-elected last month following the dissolution of Parliament.

Speaking about his Jewish upbringing in Edgware, North West London, Bercow told those present that spending Shabbat in Oxford takes him back to his childhood when his family would celebrate Shabbat in their home.

As someone who is proud and open about his Jewish heritage, Bercow stressed the importance of not being ashamed of one’s background, saying that it troubles him that, “in an un-oppressed society, someone would conceal one’s Jewish identity.”

Asked by a student about anti-semitism in Parliament, he suggested that the best way to deal with anti-Semitism is to “just get on with it and be successful at what you are doing – this really bothers them!”

“It was great to share a traditional Friday night meal such a prominent public figure who is not ashamed to be proudly Jewish,” said one student who attended.

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