Our British Jewish community has made an extraordinary impact on everyday life, its time we celebrate this with Jewish History Month

In the UK, we rightly celebrate the history and contribution to our country made by minorities, we do this with Black History Month and LGBT+ History Month as well as Pride and we highlight issues in events such as Islamophobia Awareness Month.

To complement this stable of celebration months I am calling for the establishment of a new month to honour the contribution made by one of the country’s smallest minorities, making up just 0.5% of our overall population, our British Jewish community, which has made an extraordinary impact on everyday British life.

That is why I was proud to bring a debate to the House of Commons Chamber on the contribution of the British Jewish community and to call for the establishment of a British Jewish History Month

Since the horrific Hamas terror attacks on 7 October in Israel, the Metropolitan Police has recorded a staggering 1350% increase in antisemitism in London. I’ve heard extremely concerning reports from members of our Jewish community – from primary school children to 80 year olds British Jews who have never visited Israel – that today they choose to hide their Jewish identity, not wearing their kippah or Star of David for fear of attack. This is appalling.

The number of Jews across the world stands at just 16 million, 280,000 in the UK. And for too long the narrative surrounding the Jewish community here and abroad tends to concentrate on the Holocaust and antisemitism, which is of course important. But I firmly believe that it is equally important to highlight, celebrate and thank our Jewish community for the immeasurable impact the British Jewish community has had on our nation, whether in business, the arts, science, health, politics, or our general culture. It is time we celebrated these achievements.

Just a short roll call reveals the British Jews who have changed and improved our nation:

Michael Marks, a Jewish immigrant who jointly founded Britain’s favourite high street retailer. Marks & Spencer, which is also loved by British expats across the world.

Jack Cohen, founded our largest supermarket, Tesco. Rosalind Franklin who was instrumental in the discovery of DNA; Michael Balcon established Ealing Studios, home to the famous Ealing Comedies, launching the careers of Sir Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers.

And of course, Dame Esther Rantzen, who is responsible for saving and improving countless lives thanks to her campaigning on a range of issues from organ donation; changing the law to ensure children wear rear seat belts; lifting the lid on the heinous crime of child sex abuse and establishing the charity, Child Line, and now encouraging a national debate on assisted dying. I would suggest Dame Esther has made perhaps the most fundamental societal changes over the past 50 years and we should all salute this outstanding Brit.

During the Commons’ debate, I was delighted to hear contributions from members from across the House discussing the incredible impact of our Jewish community from each corner of the UK. From Ian Paisley and Jim Shannon discussing the impact made by the Jewish community in Northern Ireland to Kirsten Oswald of the SNP celebrating the multi cultural community within her East Renfrewshire constituency which her Jewish community has played a major role in. We also heard from members from Wales and across England.

My constituency, the Cities of London & Westminster, has a long and proud Jewish history, dating back to Roman times. The Great Synagogue stood until 1272 near what we now know as Old Jewry Street in the City of London, and Bevis Marks stands as the oldest synagogue in the UK.

I am extremely proud that one of my predecessors as MP for the City of London was the first Jewish Member of Parliament. Lionel De Rothschild, who first took his seat in 1847, was recognised as the first Jewish MP following the passing of the 1858 Jewish Relief Act.

I was privileged to lead this debate and was delighted to hear the positive responses from the Minister and his Shadow counterpart to my proposal that a British Jewish History Month is established. I will now work with the Government, MPs from across the House and representatives of the Jewish community to ensure that this idea becomes a reality and that we ensure this small but impactful group of British citizens is properly recognised and celebrated.

Nickie Aiken MP

Nickie Aiken is the Conservative MP for Cities of London and Westminster, and was elected in 2019.