Pictured Above: Dr Charlotte Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor and former President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Who Flew Over From Germany for the Symposium

International faith leaders meet in Great Park to call for community approach to tackling extremism | British and international faith leaders gathered at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park on Monday 7th January 2019, to discuss and recommend solutions to the challenges faced by communities due to the rise of populism, extremism, antisemitism and islamophobia in the UK and around the world.

The symposium was convened by Cumberland Lodge and the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), to enable representatives from religious groups and community organisations to engage with contemporary issues such as: social media and online extremism; inequality and living standards; identity and integration; and faith and the public sphere.

In her keynote address, Dr Charlotte Knobloch, former President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and Holocaust survivor, addressed the current rise of populism and extremism across Europe and the world and said: ‘In these times of social upheaval and political strife, many tend to blame religions for any and all of our problems. I do not share this view. It is precisely against this backdrop of growing threats to Western democracy that faith communities need to make their voices heard. In my opinion, our beliefs have a unique power to unite us and allow us to engage in a meaningful dialogue. We need to speak openly now more than ever – with each other, but also to society at large.’

Speakers included:..

- Sughra Ahmed, Associate Dean for Religious Life at Stanford University

- Rosemary Nuamah Williams, Social and Public Affairs Advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury

- Kishan Manocha, Senior Advisor on Freedom of Religion or Belief, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

- Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Senior Rabbi to Masorti Judaism

- Rev Bruce Thompson, Chair of the Lincolnshire Methodist District

Canon Dr Edmund Newell, Principal of Cumberland Lodge, said: ‘This was an important gathering. A take-home message for me was that now is the time to scale-up the good work done in many places, to build more inclusive communities, across faiths and cultures’.

Elizabeth Harris-Sawczenko, Director of the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), said ‘As populism and extremism are on the rise, and especially as hate crimes increase and attack faith identities in this country, it is imperative that people of faith are part of a conversation to tackle the challenges of our own times. This symposium has been an opportunity for representatives of many faith communities to come together to explore what is going on in our world and to start to build a response.’


Founded in 1947, with the support of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, Cumberland Lodge is a charity that empowers people, through dialogue and debate, to tackle the causes and effects of social division. We specialise at bringing together people of every background, generation and perspective, in an inclusive environment, to address pressing social and ethical matters that have the potential to fracture communities.

Through our conferences, debates, seminars, workshops and retreats, we generate creative ideas that will influence policy and improve public awareness and understanding. Our 2018-19 series focuses on ‘Identities & Belonging’.

Our thriving educational programme with schools and universities includes: workshops in schools; intergenerational events for families; and subsidised study retreatsbursaries, scholarships and mentoring opportunities for university students. These equip and inspire students of all ages with the skills and experience to tackle social divisions and work towards social progress, both now and in the future.

The Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) is the leading national forum for Christmas-Jewish engagement in the UK and the oldest national interfaith organisation in the UK, marking its 75th anniversary in 2017. The aims of CCJ’s work are to celebrate the history and diversity of both communities; facilitate constructive dialogue; enable meaningful learning experiences; and provide opportunities for transformative change. This engagement takes place in communities across UK through 31 branches as well as through national programmes:


  • Annual seminar for church leaders at the International School of Holocaust Studies Yad Vashem and related Holocaust education
  • Campus Leadership scheme empowering students to be interfaith leaders on university campuses
  • Israel/Palestine study tour for Jewish and Christian community leaders and related dialogue on issues surrounding Israel/Palestine
  • Rabbi/clergy training to educate and to build stronger local community relations
  • Social action initiatives including related to modern slavery, antisemitism, and persecution of Christians in the Middle East.


Our facilities are available to hire for residential and non-residential conferences, meetings and special events.  Find out more at www.cumberlandlodge.ac.uk/whats-on

To find out more or to register for a place in advance, please contact Emma Albery,  Friends, Alumni and Outreach Officer, at ealbery@cumberlandlodge.ac.uk , or call 01784 497790.

 The Great Park 
Berkshire SL4 2HP 
01784 432316