Rabbi aged 77 arrested at Extinction Rebellion protests in London

Rabbi aged 77 arrested at Extinction Rebellion protests in London

A rabbi has been arrested after kneeling and praying in the middle of the road as part of the Extinction Rebellion protests in London.

Rabbi Emeritus of Finchley Reform Synagogue, north London, Jeffrey Newman, who was accompanied by around 30 Jewish activists, was arrested at around midday today in the middle of a busy junction at Bank in central London.

They joined climate change activists from Extinction Rebellion who have been obstructing five roads since 7am.

The 77-year-old, who was wearing a white skullcap branded with the black Extinction Rebellion logo, said:

“I see it as my religious and moral duty to stand up for what I believe in, and what I care about, for my grandchildren."

“I haven’t tried to involve the synagogue, because if you are asking for permission, you might not get it.

“I think it’s much more important to do what I’m doing, and they can approve or not approve at a later date.”

Mr Newman, who is also the adviser to the International Secretariat of the United Nations’ Earth Charter, a set of 16 principles for a sustainable global society, said he has been involved with global environmental movements for around 50 years.

Protesters outside the BlackRock headquarters in Throgmorton Avenue in London during the Extinction Rebellion (XR) climate change protest.
Protesters outside the BlackRock headquarters in Throgmorton Avenue in London during the Extinction Rebellion (XR) climate change protest.

The rabbi, carrying a lulav palm frond and etrog yellow citrus which protesters said symbolise human connection with the earth in Judaism, said: “This has been something that I have been involved with since the 60s.

“I am trying to get the Jewish community engaged with these issues.

“XR (Extinction Rebellion) Jews is a relatively new movement.

“Many of the younger people, the activists, have not had anything to do with the Jewish community for a long time.

“And for the first time, they have discovered that there is a potential for meaning within Judaism, because of its connection with issues that they really are concerned about.

“I think this is phenomenal.”

Protesters 'eat money' as a form of demonstration outside the BlackRock headquarters in Throgmorton Avenue in London during the Extinction Rebellion (XR) climate change protest.
Protesters 'eat money' as a form of demonstration outside the BlackRock headquarters in Throgmorton Avenue in London during the Extinction Rebellion (XR) climate change protest.

Protesting on the second day of Sukkot, a week-long Jewish holiday celebrating harvest, his supporters sang Jewish hymns and carried signs reading “conservation is a mitzvah” (meaning “religious duty’).

They circled the police van where Mr Newman was taken, waving banners and shouting about how the rabbi had been arrested to passers-by.

More on this topic

'Something Donald Trump would say': Extinction Rebellion protest following Varadkar comments on climate change positives'Something Donald Trump would say': Extinction Rebellion protest following Varadkar comments on climate change positives

Extinction Rebellion protestors douse themselves in fake blood to highlight blood on the hands of oil firmsExtinction Rebellion protestors douse themselves in fake blood to highlight blood on the hands of oil firms

Mary Robinson is right about climate activistsMary Robinson is right about climate activists

Warning for Extinction protestors: Good advice for the Greens tooWarning for Extinction protestors: Good advice for the Greens too

More in this Section

Nancy Pelosi invites Donald Trump to give evidence to impeachment inquiryNancy Pelosi invites Donald Trump to give evidence to impeachment inquiry

Jennifer Arcuri asks Boris Johnson for apologyJennifer Arcuri asks Boris Johnson for apology

Sri Lanka’s new president reaches out to Tamils and Muslims at inaugurationSri Lanka’s new president reaches out to Tamils and Muslims at inauguration

Lawyers urge Prince Andrew to speak to US police about Epstein caseLawyers urge Prince Andrew to speak to US police about Epstein case


Lifestyle

For the interiors lover who can’t resist a New Year’s revamp or a simple freshening up, there are plenty of new books on the shelves to inspire, writes Carol O’CallaghanFour new books to inspire your interiors renovation

Helen O’Callaghan hears about awards for global changeGOAL Changemakers Award: Primary schools asked for views

More From The Irish Examiner