Last night I was at an open Iftar celebration in central London surrounded by ladies in headscarves and men in robes with long beards. My hair was loose and I wore a t-shirt and jeans. I was entranced as various guests shared joyful thoughts about the holy month of Ramadan and I sat back while prayers were chanted in Arabic. I happily ate a date when the prescribed time came to break the daily fast. But I hadn't fasted.
You might guess that I'm not a Muslim. But I didn't feel like a fraud. I felt like a Londoner.
I've lived in London all my life and am mesmerised by world religions. I love the beautiful deities of Hindu temples, the wonderful Lunga (community meal) served by the Sikhs to visitors to the Gurdwara, the gentle mindfulness of Buddhist monks and last night, I was awed by the inner strength and peacefulness of those observing Ramadan. I love visiting churches, cathedrals, mosques and temples and enjoying the tranquil spaces and music inside. My Jewish heritage has filled my life with all sorts of magical rituals too, from candle lighting to festivities.
I guess I am just like a child pressing my nose against a sweet shop window. Bits of every religion look so wonderful. And as someone who has always questioned and rejected authority I know following any religion won't exactly float my boat.
But what about a global religion where any religious ritual can be practiced? Wouldn't this be perfect for London?
After the horrors of the Grenfell Fire and the recent London attacks, Londoners need to make sense of the world again. It's nice to have major religions to guide us but why choose just one when we can take something valuable from all the religions?
Religions are really about the community and the people connecting behind the scenes. It's about coming together and sharing an experience, whether it's fasting together for Ramadan, singing hymns together in church or meditating together in a temple. It's about knowing what to do and where to go in times of need or change. Londoners can do this. We can figure this out.
Meanwhile, until the unifying London religion exists, I'm happy to embrace all religion in this city. Last night I celebrated Ramadan, for the Summer Solstice and I plan to take part in a pagan celebration on Hampstead Heath and on Friday night I'll be lighting Sabbath candles with my children.
And a big shalom and salaam to you all. Peace.