Where are the ‘real’ orthodox groups?

21 May

This is a guest post by Noah Nathan. Follow him on twitter @TheNoahNathan

Congratulations to Laura, Alex and Jonathan on their election to Vice-President of the Board of Deputies. Whilst Jonathan was my number one vote and it was a shame that he missed out on senior Vice-President, I have confidence in the strength of the new honorary officers.

It was probably the most exciting election that the Board has ever seen with live streaming and twitter playing an important role in creating the atmosphere. Unlike the previous plenary sessions that I’ve attended, the number of twitter users tweeting with the #bod hashtag that I did not know of, was astounding. It just shows the growing interest that the young Jewish community is having with the Board or perhaps the growing number of older Deputies using twitter.

The event however, was marred by controversy when one candidate was interrupted by a Deputy multiple times regarding a long-standing argument between them. The other controversy happened when one Deputy took issue with one of the candidates’ Reform background.  The most chutzpadik thing was that this Deputy wasn’t even wearing a kippa at the time.

This gets me onto another point – there are a ridiculous number of Deputies representing Orthodox synagogue that don’t wear kippot. Why do so many shuls choose someone who won’t even cover their head in a public Jewish setting? The fact that some of the Deputies chosen by the United Synagogue trustees don’t wear kippot is totally wrong and shows a bad dugma ishit (personal example) too as well. Even the President, who represents Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue won’t even wear a kippa in front of the queen!

On a final note, after today’s plenary session, I’ve thought about a couple things. Firstly, I’ll need to wear a movement shirt to future sessions; Bnei Akiva’s other Deputy – mazkir Alex Cohen – wore his and it definitely allowed him to stand out and network better.  Secondly, there was a lot of talk about ‘change’ at the Board which most candidates stressed was about introducing younger and more female Deputies. 

However, if we want the Board to be a true representation of Anglo Jewry, we must also make efforts to bring back in the fastest growing group – the Chareidim.

Noah was writing about the Board of Deputies elections which took place yesterday. We’ll have more reaction on this in the coming days. For an early article from the Jewish Chronicle click here.

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7 Responses to “Where are the ‘real’ orthodox groups?”

  1. Rebecca (Liz) May 21, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    If the Board wants more female deputies, it won’t get the Chareidim. Also, wearing a kippah in front of the Queen is a bit of a sticky wicket, in fairness. Yes, representing a Jewish group theoretically means that one ought to, but people don’t necessarily know that (especially etiquette-monkeys for Her Maj).

    • Jonathan Arkush May 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

      I believe that the Board now has a strong team and I am very pleased to be a part of it.
      To Noah, thanks for your support – I agree about kippot and that’s why I wear mine with pride.
      To Rebecca, it’s no problem wearing a kipa in front of the Queen and when I did so she did not complain ! About the chareidim, you are right unfortunately, and it’s also about the presence of deputies from non-orthodox movements. I wish it was not so, but so far they have not been prepared to change their view, and I guess it’s a matter for them. Nonetheless we work closely with them and will continue to do so as we are a Board for the whole community.

  2. Laura Marks May 24, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    Noah thank you for your post and whilst i appreciate that Jonny was your candidate, i appreciate your warm welcome and look forward to working with you as with all the youth movements. The denomination of our deputies is, of course, irrelevant. What matters is our willingness to give our time, energies and talents to our community which of course is the trademark of all our movement workers.

    We now have a very strong team of HOs and I am proud and delighted to be working with them all.

    I too welcome the use of new media at the Board. It allows far greater participation and accountability, it generates interest and it creates a buzz. New to Twitter (but for an ageing woman doing quite well) I can see how it is able to build a virtual community which can broaden our reach. I just wish I understood hash tags better!

    Looking forward to working with BA and to recognising you by your movement shirt next time!

    • Noah Nathan May 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

      It is interesting that you point out that the denominations of our deputies aren’t important. However, if this was completely true, then the synagogal organisations would not feel a need to push and campaign for one candidate (which some of them did).
      The point I made is that if you are representing an Orthodox institution, then at least publicly you should support their ethos and ideology – of which wearing a kippa is one example. This is especially true for those deputies that are appointed by the trustees of synagogal bodies. Laura, I must say that I think that you set an excellent example for the reform movement by being their deputy.

      With regard to the lack of chareidi deputies, I think this is a massive shame. But what is more of a shame is the lack of a drive for the Board themselves to try and rectify this. They should take note from the London Jewish Forum, which managed to successfully bring in the chareidim. Its a pity that the Board hasn’t realised that the chair of the LJF is a deputy too as well and they could ask him for advice on how to bring them in.

      • Jonathan Arkush May 31, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

        Noah

        We certainly know who our deputies are, and we have tried, many times, to bring the charedim back onto the Board. As I explained in my earlier post, their decision is to stay away. It’s up to them, but they know they are welcome any time. In point of fact, the charedim are not on the LJF, although Rabbi Avrohom Pinter attends some meetings in an individual capacity – just as he does some Board events, so there’s no difference there. Can I also add that

        whenever the charedi community needs the Board’s help, it asks for it and the Board invariably gives all appropriate support. Similarly, the very orthodox UOHC is represented on and fully participates in Shechita UK in which the Board plays an important role. As I said before, the Board represents every section of our community irrespective of the level of participation they choose.

  3. Orthodox Deputy June 3, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    The Board’s Vice-President seems to be a bit out of touch. At least three charedi reps sit as full members of the LJF’s core committee. The Forum using a modern model of representation with no ‘religious authorities’. If the Board wants to broaden its appeal to this sector it will need to proceed with internal reforms. Its leadership will need to properly understand the issues at hand, which based on the comments above is not currently the case. The Board’s CEO sits on the LJF so they should be aware of all this.

  4. Ric Cooper July 16, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    I’ve just stumbled upon this jolly blog and I must say, it’s very interesting – and enlightening about how the next generation (I am 55) see things!
    I represent a provincial Independent Hebrew Congregation (Portsmouth). I only wear a cappel (as we call it) when davening or in the presence of a ner tamid. I believe passionately that everyone should find their own path to and accomodation with the Almighty, and the last thing one Jew should do is to criticise another for not being sufficiently dati. In this respect we have gone backwards in the past 40 years: before 1970 Orthodox communities were much more relaxed about observance in everyday life.
    We have enough enemies in the world to satisfy the most ardent masochist! Let’s try to work together and respect each other’s differences.

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