Our Mission

Founded by Interlink Foundation, we are an independent group of Orthodox Jewish leaders and activists acting as a point of contact for our community’s public affairs and public relations

The Charedi Community

The Charedi community is the most distinct group of Jews in the world today.  Characterised by their strong family values and deep sense of community and culture, Charedis (or Charedim) are a group of Orthodox Jews who are deeply committed to following Jewish law (Halacha) as set down in the Torah and other religious texts, primarily the Shulchan Aruch.  This means they observe laws governing their diet, the keeping of Shabbes and festivals, standards of modesty as well as devotion to daily prayer and Torah study.


These laws and customs have been at the heart of Judaism for many centuries, and until the arrival of the ‘Enlightenment’ and Reform movements in Europe in the 1800s, were universally accepted as the authoritative code for the Jewish religion.  Until then, there was no distinction in observance among European Jews – also known as Ashkenazim. It was only from then on that to differentiate between traditional Jewry and emerging groups, terms such as ‘Orthodox’ and ‘Charedi’ were introduced.  Literally translated as ‘those who tremble in fear of G-d’, ‘Charedi’ denotes those who are dedicated to following closely the word of G-d.


Whilst many Charedis are easily noticeable on account of their distinctive dress and use of the Yiddish language, within the community there are many different groups and, like all parts of society, Charedis encompass a mosaic of diverse attitudes and outlooks.  What unites them all, however, is their devotion to a Torah way of life and the positive attributes of this such as tolerance, compassion, social action, and civic responsibility.

 

UK Charedis

 

There are thriving Charedi communities across the world – most notably in Israel and the United States – the largest European Charedi community can be found in the UK where it is concentrated in London, Manchester and Gateshead.


The Charedi community has been an intrinsic part of British life since the end of the 19th century when Jews, fleeing the pogroms in Eastern Europe, moved here in search of better opportunities and greater religious freedoms.  The community grew significantly during and after the Holocaust as refugees and survivors sought to start a new life here.  Since then, the community has grown and currently numbers over 75,000 people.  In recent years, some members of the North London community have moved out to Canvey Island and Westcliff in Essex where there are now flourishing communities. According to research by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, the Charedi community will account for around 40% of the UK Jewish community by 2040.


Due to the requirements of religious practice and the wish to preserve its laws and customs, the community has set up its own institutions, including schools, welfare organisations and charities.  These institutions enable the community to observe Jewish practice whilst also complying with national rules and regulations.


There are some impressive charitable organisations which make up the jewels in the crown of the community.  These charities, which are predominantly involved in the social care, health, welfare, education and youth sectors, are widely respected both within and outside the community.  Many of them are pioneers within their sectors leading the way and sharing best practice with others.

Anyone who has taken the time to get to know the community is struck by its warmth and kindness, its generosity and its strong family values which permeate everything it does. Whilst the Charedi community is close-knit, it is in no way closed or shut off and there is no doctrine which requires it to separate from wider society. It’s schools, charities and businesses engage successfully with those outside the community and strong partnerships and friendships have been formed as a result.


Charedi Family Values

 

Members of the community are proud to follow a Charedi way of life and pass this down to their children.  As such, family is central to their lives and great importance is placed on eating together, celebrating together, learning together, working together and mourning together.

Marriage is a mitzvah (religious commandment) in the Torah and strongly encouraged. Usually arranged through matchmakers who introduce like-minded people to each other, these marriages, known as ‘shidduchs’, are in no way forced and can only take place with the full consent and, indeed, expressed wishes of both the man and woman.  Under Jewish law, no marriage is allowed to take place if either side feels coerced or forced.


Whilst marriage is encouraged, single people live independent lives as full members of the community.  Likewise, divorce is not uncommon and takes place under the auspices of a Beth Din (rabbinical court) and civil authorities.  That said, the divorce rate within the community is much lower than the national average.


Charedi families tend to have a larger number of children than the average British family.  It is typical for both parents to work and it is common that the husband would dedicate part of the day to Torah study. As such, the responsibility for raising children is shared equally between both the mother and the father.

 

We hope you find this introductory information useful, if you want to know more and get to know the community better – please contact us