Naḥamu needs to exist because no one should be harmed by the religion they practice. Those who have been harmed should be comforted. Those who use religion to harm others must be challenged.
We are a group of people who are deeply involved in the religious Jewish community, committed to Jewish life, values and Torah, who have become concerned about increasing levels of extremist discourse and obscurantism. We see a growing body of evidence that extreme religious views within the Jewish community promote behaviours that harm the community: fostering ignorance and bigotry, sustaining criminality and covering up abuse. These behaviours put the whole community at risk.
The time has come to confront religious extremists, protect those that are harmed by them, and develop models which will enable the whole of the community to build a viable future. The mainstream Jewish community, supported by statutory agencies, must provide new options for those who are trapped in an unsustainable way of life, or those who are simply denied education and freedom and choice.
As more people feel brave enough to speak out about being trapped in abusive or criminal lifestyles, they encounter a widespread lack of awareness, reluctance to engage with this problem and a lack of understanding of the vectors and behaviours associated with religious extremism. There is no organisation with a remit to understand and oppose religious extremism within the Jewish community, advocate on behalf of its victims, or raise the issue with Government in a nuanced, educated but robust manner.
Therefore, we have created Naḥamu.
Naḥamu fights for the right of every Jewish person to live a life that is guided by their religion, without sacrificing their personal autonomy or welfare. We support those who wish to live a full and sustaining life of religious observance in the community that they have chosen, as well as those who wish to make changes to their lifestyle or move to a different part of the community. It is the right of every British citizen to practice their religion and experience their culture as they see fit. However, they, in turn, may not cause harm to others through the practice of their religion.
We wish to ensure that members of all religious communities have access to the education that is key to solving this problem and ensuring a sustainable and viable future without conflicting with the law of the land. We believe that autonomous choice is critical to this future. We believe that everyone should be able to exercise this choice without intimidation, coercion or undue influence. We believe that there are models and precedents that have been developed both in the UK and abroad that can provide us with guidance and hope for the future.