Torah For Today: The Battle of Cable Street

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Torah For Today: The Battle of Cable Street

Rabbi Ariel Abel takes a topical issue and looks at an Orthodox response

Rabbi Ariel Abel

Rabbi Ariel Abel is based in Liverpool

A demonstrator is taken away under arrest by police officers after a mounted baton charge, in East London, on Oct. 4, 1936, to stop fighting between anti-fascists and Sir Oswald Mosley's blackshirts.
A demonstrator is taken away under arrest by police officers after a mounted baton charge, in East London, on Oct. 4, 1936, to stop fighting between anti-fascists and Sir Oswald Mosley's blackshirts.

Next week marks the 85th anniversary since the Battle of Cable Street on 4 October 1936, when riots erupted between anti-Fascists and Blackshirts. What does the Torah have to say about the passing of 75 years and fighting fascism? 

Abraham, our ancestor, was a subject of Nimrod, a cruel despot who threw whomsoever he disliked into the flames of his furnaces. According to legend, Abraham survived such an attempt on his life. 

At 75 years old, Abraham experienced a calling to leave his homeland and set up for a future destiny elsewhere. 

Much later, Daniel and his friends were cast into a furnace by another power-crazed king, Nebuchadnezzar, the inspiration many centuries later of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. 

Daniel and his friends survived, too, unlike so many others who perished at the hands of the Inquisitors and fascists of the Third Reich. 

Prior to the march of 4 October 1936, residents of the area petitioned government to ban the march. However, it went ahead with 20,000 of Oswald Mosley’s fascists, 2,000 of whom were allowed to approach the demonstrators, who comprised trade unionists, communists, anarchists, British Jews, Irish dockers and socialist groups. 

Demonstrators saw off the fascists with anything that came to hand, and women emptied chamber pots on their heads. 

This scene is reminiscent of another fascist threat, this time against the Jews of Persia. But in this case their chief, Haman, was humiliated first by leading Mordechai along the streets to honour him and then, according to legend by his own daughter, who emptied a chamber pot over her father’s head. When she realised who Haman was, she took her own life. 

The face-off between Nazi and Jew, fascists and proponents of freedom, is at the very core of Judaism, a religion cognisant of existentialism. 

The need to exist physically sets aside almost all other considerations, and the most compelling, shortest and obligatory Torah reading of the year – Nitzavim – is the one that warns us to “stand guard” and cry out: “No pasarán!”

  •  Rabbi Ariel Abel is based in Liverpool 
Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: