Birmingham Progressive launches asylum seeker project

4 February 2024 – 25 Shevat 5784

Birmingham tree planting 1

Birmingham Progressive Synagogue (BPS) launched a major new project to support asylum seekers with an interfaith tree planting in a local park.

The synagogue – which one of the largest Jewish communities in the Midlands – has been awarded funding by Birmingham City Council to run a series of interfaith events which bring together asylum seekers and settled members of the local community.

More than 80 people, half of who were asylum seekers, attended the tree planting which was run in partnership with local community growing charity Fruit & Nut Villag and organised to mark Tu BiShvat.

After planting 10 fruit trees in the city’s Calthorpe Park, attendees heard from Jewish, Muslim and secular speakers about the symbolism of trees in their faiths or worldviews. A meal was provided by a refugee-run catering company, which has a longstanding relationship with the synagogue.

Tommer Spence, one of the synagogue members who helped to organise the event, said: “Birmingham is an incredibly diverse city, so it was very special to see so many people of different faiths come together to mark Tu BiShvat and enrich local green spaces.

“Our synagogue has many members who are refugees or descended from refugees, so we feel very committed to supporting those who are coming to Birmingham in search of a safe place to call home. As we welcome people who are putting down new roots in the city, it feels symbolic to plant fruit trees which will be enjoyed by the community for years to come.”

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