Christchurch mosque victims gifted more than $1.1 million by International Jewish community

Imam Gamal Fouda at Al Noor mosque (left), and Anwar Ghani from Fianz (right) explain what happened on March 15th to Stephen Goodman and Vic Alhadeff (centre)


In an exceptional move of inter-faith solidarity in New Zealand, the Jewish community has led a fund-raising drive to help the Muslim community, following the horrific terrorist attacks in Christchurch in March.

The attack on two mosques killed 49 people, and left bereaving and heart-broken families. New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern described it as one of her country’s “darkest days”.

This positive and generous gesture saw $1.1 million raised by the Jewish communities of New Zealand, Australia and America. This New Zealand Abrahamic fund was officially gifted to the victims of the Christchurch Mosque attacks via The Christchurch Foundation on Wednesday (17 July). A ceremony took place where the money was symbolically handed over to Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

The money was raised not only from the New Zealand Jewish community, but also Jewish communities in New South Wales and the US, including Pittsburgh, where the community suffered a terrorist attack last October.

(L to R) Stephen Goodman, Anwar Ghani, Ibrar Sheikh and Asher Levi at the synagogue

The Fund will distribute grants to the Muslim community, and this will be decided by guidance from both the Muslim and Jewish communities. Party of the money will go to inter-faith activities. Both the Jewish and Muslim communities, globally, have been victims of terror at the hands of white supremacists, and the donation is an act of solidarity and friendship.

Ibrar Sheikh from the Federation of Islamic Associations NZ (FIANZ) said: “The Jewish and Muslim community in New Zealand already have a long history of collaboration, but this wider gift of support from the global community is very gratefully received. The events of 15th March have had a deep and lasting impact on the Muslim community in New Zealand, and indeed the people of Aotearoa as a whole. To know that our Jewish brothers and sisters understand what we have gone through, and are still going through, and are there to help us in our recovery is very important to us.”

(L to right) front Vic Alhadeff, Liane Daziel, Stephen Goodman, Paul Deavoll, back Ibrar Sheikh, Anwar Ghani, Shagaf Khan, and Mohammed Jama

Stephen Goodman of the New Zealand Jewish Council added: “The Jewish community, both in New Zealand and overseas, wanted the victims of the mosque attacks to know that we see them, we empathise with them, and we support them.”

London-based Zaki Cooper from the Commonwealth Jewish Council said: “We are proud of the New Zealand Jewish community initiating this fantastic donation as an act of solidarity with the Muslim community in New Zealand. As Muslims and Jews, we have so much in common and in our ongoing efforts to strengthen relations, we must value our commonalities whilst acknowledging our differences. That’s what good friendship is about. The generosity of spirit exemplified by the New Zealand Abrahamic fund should radiate outwards and inspire communities all over the world.”

Harris Bokhari attends Gordon Brown lecture: Labour needs to overhaul antisemitism strategy

Original article published on 15th July 2019

FORMER British prime minister Gordon Brown has called for a radical overhaul in methods to combat racism, particularly within the Labour Party, proposing a raft of tough new measures to tackle antisemitism.

The 17th Annual Isaiah Berlin Lecture, delivered to over 500 people in London, was a marquee event, with leaders from across various sectors and industries present.

Zaki Cooper, who organised the lecture, said: “Mr Brown made us all think deeply about the big issues facing us today. He particularly spoke about the value of empathy, which of course is important in all human relationships and inter-faith. We were delighted to welcome a number of leaders from other faiths to our beautiful synagogue, as well as several other distinguished guests.”

In his remarks at Hampstead Synoague, Brown also highlighted the rise in attacks on Muslims and Islamophobia, saying: “Racist poison is not restricted to antisemitism. It includes the efforts of Islamophobes who are using social media to condemn the entire Muslim community — demonstrating the still-widespread racism that disfigures more and more of our society.“

Harris Bokhari, co founder of the Naz Legacy Foundation, was the the only Muslim leader to join a private reception with Brown. The reception was attended by leading members of the Jewish community, including the Israeli ambassador, president of the Board of Deputies and politicians including the shadow Brexit Secretary of State Sir Keir Starmer.

Bokhari, a leading Muslim voice in the fight against antisemitism said: “It was a honour to be invited to attend such an important speech by Gordon Brown and it is crucial we continue stand shoulder to shoulder with our Jewish brothers and sisters, as together, united as two communities, we send out a strong message of unity to all those promoters of hate, that antisemitism and Islamophobia will not be accepted.”

London Jewish community hosts Iftar for Muslims World

By Murtaza Ali Shah

LONDON: A synagogue in the heart of a diverse East London borough opened its doors to Muslims to break their fast with Jews and members of others faiths including Sikhs, Christians and others.

This  was the first ever Iftar dinner arranged by Woodford United Synagogue, attended by leading local and national Jewish leadership who served food for local Muslims. 

The event included workshops on tackling hate crime, opportunities for local residents to get to know each other and speeches from members of the local community. There was also a delicious meal to break the fast under one roof. At the end of the event guests were encouraged to consider how they could continue to promote tolerance and partnership across their community.

Rabbi Wollenberg, who organised the event with his family said: “The event was a huge success, with Muslims and Jews coming together to learn about each other’s faiths and perspectives. For many Muslims, it was their first time in a Synagogue and for many of the Jewish guests it was their first time at an iftar!”

There were also talks from a range of speakers, including Dr Mohammed Fahim, Head Iman at South Woodford Mosque and Susan Pollack MBE – an Auschwitz survivor who has gone on to campaign for solidarity between people of different faiths. 

Also speaking at the event was Khatira Kazemi, a 15-year-old local resident who is a member of Redbridge’s Youth Council. Her message was that the only way to break down barriers is to work together and get to know one another.

Harris Bokhari, co founder of the Naz Legacy Foundation and organiser of the first inter faith Iftari with the Chief Rabbi at St John’s Wood synagogue, which resulted in a number of synagogues across London hosting their own Iftaris appreciated the synagogue for arranging their Iftar said its important for Muslims and Jews to work together to deal with common challenges. 

Harris Bokhari said that “the same extreme elements of society who are promoting anti-Semitism in the UK are the same elements who are also Islamophobic. We need to call out all forms of prejudice and racism in society and it is important we speak out against anti-Semitism in the same way we have to speak out against Islamophobia”.

Bokhari, who is one the leading British Muslim voices in the fight against anti-Semitism, has brought British Muslim and Jewish communities together over the last 20 years, organising many of his recent events with the Chief Rabbi of the UK including the historic St Paul’s Cathedral iftar earlier this Ramazan.

Bokhari added “we have to speak out against the anti-Semitism in the Muslim communities and Islamophobia in the Jewish communities, as well as educating society as a whole against these forms of hate. Ramazan is the prefect time to bring our different faith and non faith communities together to show we have more in common and speak out against hate of all kinds.”

Official data from the Home Office has shown a surge in hate crime directed at people in England and Wales because of their religious beliefs. With over 50% of these religious hate crimes aimed at Muslims.

This is also the third successive year with a record number of anti-Semitimic incidents reported by the Community Security Trust, which has monitored anti-Semitism for 35 years and provides security to the UK Jewish community.

Harris Bokhari organises first Interfaith Iftar at St John’s Wood Synagogue with the Chief Rabbi

Harris Bokhari OBE organised the first ever Interfaith Iftar hosted at the St John’s Wood Synagogue on Wednesday 30th May 2018. Speakers included Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Bishop of London and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. The event empowered and raised the aspirations of 150 young people aged 18-30 years old (the average age was 24), representing all 32 boroughs of London, from all faiths and none and provided wonderful opportunity to celebrate faith in the centre of our vibrant and diverse capital. The young people came together to discuss how they best thought they could bring faith and non faith communities together in London for the betterment of all our communities.

Articles include:

Further to the Interfaith Iftar, the Naz Legacy Foundation carried out an impact assessment and asked everyone involved how they found the day. Some of the highlights from the report are below,

– 54% of the young people had never been to an iftar before

– 79% had never been to an interfaith iftar 

– 44% had never been to a synagogue.  

– 89% strongly agreeing/agreed the iftar was inspiring

– 79% strongly agreed/agreed that they had increased knowledge about other faiths as a direct result of the iftar 

– 86% felt positive that the event improved access to people from different faiths

– 94% of the young people felt positive about taking part in more social action projects with people from different faiths in result of the iftar 

– 88% felt confident that they would keep in touch with people that they had met at the Iftar. 

– Over 50% young people from faiths that they had not met before despite living in multi-cultural London.  This resulted in a 21%-point increase in the respondents’ knowledge of other faiths post-Iftar. 

– Overall 97% rated the Iftar as Good or Excellent.

The full report can be read here:

Naz Legacy – Interfaith Iftar 2018 Evaluaiton report

Board Member Harris Bokhari OBE organises special interfaith iftar

Original article published on 23 June 2017 on Mosaic

Mosaic was thrilled to be involved in the recent inaugural interfaith Iftar at the Archbishop’s House hosted by His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

Mosaic was represented on the day by senior members of the Mosaic team and members of the Mosaic Advisory Board, including Chairman Shabir Randeree CBE and member Harris Bokhari OBE, co-founder of the Naz Legacy Foundation and organiser of the Interfaith Iftar.

The event saw 100 young Londoners of different faiths and of no faith, including pupils from Mosaic partner schools Westminster Academy and Ernest Bevin College, join the Cardinal Vincent Nichols,  Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, and Mosaic Ambassador Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in the daily breaking of the fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

A Mosaic mentee from Westminster Academy who attended his first interfaith Iftar said afterwards: “This event really opened my eyes and has encouraged me to involve people of different faiths  when planning any project. The ideas I have heard today have been so inspiring”.

Harris Bokhari OBE said: “It has never been more important than now to bring people of faith and no faith together. We have to create more spaces where we are able to share with each other that we have more in common and break down the prejudices of not knowing the other. I hope this will lead to many of the young people to implement some of their ideas into real action which benefits their local communities.”The Prime Minister Rt Hon Theresa May MP sent a letter which was read out on the night, which said: “The work of the Foundation is truly the best of British; bringing young people together who would otherwise not have met, from very different backgrounds for good purposes at a time when we need more than ever to celebrate the positive contributions that faith can bring to our country”.

Harris Bokhari – “A photo of ‘hope’ that travelled around the world”

Original article published on 26 July 2016 on Mosaic

Mosaic was thrilled to be involved in the recent historic inaugural Iftar at Lambeth Palace hosted by the Most Reverend Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Members of Mosaic’s leadership team, including Manager Director Jonathan Freeman, as well as current and previous board members, and Mosaic’s Founder Chairman HRH Princess Badiya bint El Hassan were in attendance at the Interfaith Iftar organised by Harris Bokhari OBE, co-founder of the Naz Legacy Foundation and Mosaic Board Member.

The event saw 100 young Londoners of different or no faith, including pupils from Mosaic schools Westminster Academy and Ernest Bevin College, join the Archbishop of Canterbury, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, and Mosaic Ambassador and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in the daily breaking of the fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

It was also the setting for a selfie taken by Mayor Sadiq Khan (on our very own Nizam Uddin’s phone who was a volunteer on the night) that was subsequently retweeted by some of the most famous people in the world, including Ashton Kutcher and J.K. Rowling, who commented that the ‘picture gives hope.’


Harris Bokhari OBE said: “This was an uplifting event that made a positive statement about the diversity and tolerance that dominates our capital city. For Muslims to break their fast alongside followers of all faiths shows a solidarity and understanding that is more necessary now than ever. The food itself, also sensitive to all faiths, was great too!”