(JNS.org) Jewish groups and leaders in the United Kingdom swiftly reacted to voters' decision to leave the European Union in the Brexit referendum, 52 percent in favor of exiting and 48. percent opposed. British Prime Minister David Cameron resigned on Friday after the vote.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews expressed the hope that Britain “will now come together” after a “divisive and bruising” campaign, adding that the group “will nonetheless continue to work with colleagues and organizations across Europe as part of our broader program of advocacy on international issues of concern to the Jewish people.”
Sir Mick Davis, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council and former chair of the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, expressed sadness over Cameron’s resignation, noting that the outgoing prime minister “has always been a loyal friend of the Jewish community and a visible and vocal supporter of the State of Israel. He has worked constructively with us, engaging on issues of concern to British Jews. I wish to thank him for his many years of service and for his dedication and devotion to our country.”
Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, said the Brexit campaign has “sharply divided” the U.K. and that “the time for disagreement and division is now over.”
“It is more essential than ever before that we unite so that the ensuing political upheaval does not adversely affect the most vulnerable in our society and that our moral leadership role in the world remains undiminished. It is my hope and prayer that the polarization of the national debate about Europe will now give way to a composed recognition of our common values of respect and responsibility,” he said.
The leader of the U.K.’s Reform Judaism movement, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, said that “the campaign has been an emotional one that has at times divided our society in ways we might never have imagined,” and that people should “move forward into a period of negotiations and redefining our relationship with the rest of Europe and the wider world.”
“The United Kingdom must continue to be an outward facing society, confident of its place in the world” and not isolate itself from the global community," she said.
Rabbi Danny Rich of the Liberal Judaism movement warned against the “possibility of a divided United Kingdom since Scotland, Northern Ireland, and London voted by large majorities to remain in the EU, whereas Wales and the rest of England took the opposite view,” the U.K.'s Jewish News reported.