This Tuesday our navigator Anna-Cara invited us all, including Izzy, for a meal in another area of London home to an Orthodox Jewish community; Golders Green. As Izzy now lives there and knows the area well, he recommended that we eat at his favourite Japanese restaurant where we had a wonderful meal, fulling embracing the spirit of global citizenship. Never tiring of Izzy’s stories and experiences, we chatted and ate, then spent the rest of the evening wandering the neighbourhood as the sun went down.
The Jewish presence was less apparent on the high street than it had been in Stamford Hill, then as we kept walking we started to pass Jewish education centres, barbers, bakeries (where we stopped to buy some goods!) and of course synagogues. Though still Orthodox, the community there seemed much less closed off: most spoke English, not Yiddish, and were for the most part friendly and approachable. Some of the children already know Izzy’s face, and he told us rather proudly how he is known to some as a “heretic”, as he is rather fond making his (dis)beliefs known, and is not bothered about keeping a low profile. Soon we made it all the way back to Izzy’s student house, where we sat in the cozy lounge while Izzy showed us the personal diary he wrote during his transition to atheism. It was amazing how warm, welcoming and open he was to a group of people he has only known for a couple of days. Izzy has shown and taught us so much, and not just about his experiences as a Jew in London. Soon he’ll be moving to Bristol to begin his degree in Physics, and we wish him all the best!