Senior Rabbi responsible for advancing social justice agenda and interfaith expert to lead drive for greater UK Jewish response to issues of refugees and racial justice
LONDON – Rabbi David Mason, Rabbi of Muswell Hill Synagogue, London, has been appointed as the first Executive Director of HIAS+JCORE, the new organization formed earlier this year by HIAS and JCORE combining their operations in the UK. Together, these two organizations – each with long histories of supporting refugees and asylum seekers – are seeking to significantly enhance the UK Jewish response to issues of refugees and racial justice.
Rabbi Mason, who is leaving his post at Muswell Hill after more than 14 years, was born in Edinburgh and previously served at Kingston Synagogue in South West London. He studied at George Watsons College and received a BSc and MSc in Econometrics from the London School of Economics and attended yeshivot in Israel for 7 years before joining the Rabbinate. Mason also has a Masters in Conflict Resolution in Divided Society from Kings College London.
Commenting on his appointment, Rabbi Mason said, “Through my years of service as a Rabbi, I have worked closely with JCORE and its Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Edie Friedman. I have a passion for a Jewish narrative that values and prioritizes welcome and humane treatment of others, including those who seek refuge and asylum in the UK. I am excited to develop our relationship with HIAS, to expand and deepen our work. I look forward to growing the impact of an organization with a vital and proud place in Anglo-Jewry and the wider world.”
Dr. Edie Friedman, JCORE Founder and outgoing Executive Director, said, “It has been a privilege to have developed JCORE’s work. I am proud that, over the past 45 years, we have consistently encouraged the Jewish community to take action on race and asylum in the UK. I am also proud that we have helped to make the Jewish voice on these issues part of the national conversation, respected by politicians, other communities, and refugee and anti-racism organizations. I’m confident that the new relationship with HIAS will ensure that social justice remains at the heart of Jewish values, thus also reinforcing a positive Jewish identity, both for ourselves and for the wider society. I look forward in my new role as Honorary President to support the new leadership team in developing this partnership.”
Adam Rose, Chairperson, JCORE said, “I am delighted that Rabbi Mason is joining the HIAS+JCORE team as its new Executive Director. David has a long-standing commitment to refugees and anti-racism, and it is great to know that all the excellent work that Dr. Edie Friedman has done for these causes over the years will be continued by someone with his experience and insight. He has a big act to follow, and I am confident that the organization will grow under his leadership.”
HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield added, “We are excited to welcome Rabbi David Mason to his new role as Executive Director of HIAS+JCORE in the UK, as we continue our work to join our two organizations with long histories of supporting forcibly displaced people. We are confident that Rabbi Mason’s experience and local leadership will significantly strengthen the Jewish response to racial equality and to the global refugee crisis.”
Established in 1976, JCORE (Jewish Council for Racial Equality) has worked both inside and outside the Jewish community to provide a Jewish voice on race and asylum issues. Indeed, we are the only Jewish anti-racism organization that makes explicit the connection between racism and attitudes to asylum.
We believe a concern for social justice should be an integral part of Jewish identity and interaction with the rest of society. We encourage the Jewish community to speak out against racism because, as Jews, we know what happens when others stand by and do nothing. Our work also involves collaboration with other communities, as we believe this is the best way to tackle racism and discrimination.
We work in three main areas: education on race and asylum issues; campaigning and practical support for refugees and asylum seekers; and Black-Asian-Jewish dialogue. Through our schools’ programs, we help Jewish children see the connection between their Jewish identity and combating racism. We have four programs to help asylum seekers and refugees: JUMP, providing one-to-one befriending for vulnerable young asylum seekers who have come to the UK without parents or a guardian; Minds Together, offering one-to-one therapeutic counselling and creative group sessions to vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees who have been deeply traumatized in their countries of origin; Refugee Doctors, helping refugee doctors to requalify in the UK; and JCORE Support, providing basic necessities for destitute asylum seekers in the UK.
HIAS is the international Jewish humanitarian organization that provides vital services to refugees and asylum seekers in more than 20 countries. We advocate for the rights of all forcibly displaced people to rebuild their lives and seek to create a world in which they find welcome, safety, and opportunity.
Learn more and take action at HIAS.org