Marie van der Zyl

9 May

We asked each of the candidates 12 questions about their vision of the board. These are the responses we received from Marie van der Zyl.

Click here to return to the main post, but see how they answered the question above here.

 

What are the most pressing concerns you feel the community needs the Board of Deputies to focus on?

 

The most pressing concern is clearly that of antisemitism in the Labour Party fuelled by the distrust of the community of the leadership of the party. However there are a range of other concerns or challenges for the Board including with the growth of the Haredi communities, social cohesion and within the constituencies of the Board youth alienation.

 

What is the one thing you love most about the Board?

 

I love its democracy. It is one of the most unique institutions within the British community. It isn’t something to be taken for granted and certainly not subverted but rather it should be cherished and protected.

 

What is the one thing that most frustrates you about the Board?

 

The flip side of the democratic culture is process. Sometimes there is a sense that process can induce a sclertotic effect on the Board. The more we can do to steamline things and especially to encourage greater participation the better.

 

What will you do to make plenaries and meetings productive?

I will hold debates at plenary meetings for example in relation to the recent organ donation issue. This will make the Board THE place to debate the issues of the day . It will also require content and thought to the contribution and lead to better behaviour and enable all points of view to be expressed .

 

I will also ensure meetings are conducted courteously with diversity of opinion being respected .

 

How will you represent and work with people who you disagree with?

 

The Deputies represent a broad range range of opinion on all manner of things and difference of opinion and view point is to be encouraged. Difference is strength, but it has to be in a broadly defined consensus.

 

We combine together for a reason. I do and will take this philosophy into the way I work, consulting, encouraging voices to be heard and ensuring that our counterparts appreciate the depth and breadth of the Board.

 

How will you represent the diversity of opinion in our community with regards to Israel?

 

We all agree on the centrality of Israel to our identity. We all care for the welfare of the people of Israel and our concern for their security is next to our hearts.

 

We all admire the achievements of Israel and worry about the threats to the country. When Israel is in danger we must show solidarity.

 

Beyond that there will be differing views on how Israel’s best interests are served. We should represent clearly both our essential consensus but also acknowledging our strength in diverse opinion.

 

 

How will you continue the Board’s record of combating racism and antisemitism both in and out of the community?

 

We must build alliances within the community and with other communities ,to ensure our voices are louder .Hence The importance of intercommunal work, something I’ve taken seriously through my many visits to the places of worship of other faiths and as a trustee of the Interfaith Network .

 

My record on antisemitism is clear, we as explained build alliances in and out of the community and we never appease. We always call it out. That’s not to say there isn’t a role for a quiet diplomacy (see my work at LSE) but that’s different to accepting an accommodation with it.

 

Do we need a zero tolerance policy of racism in Jewish communal organisations?

 

Yes is the simple answer. Its way to say but it requires effort and focus and honesty to ensure it happens.

 

How will you ensure that young people are spoken to rather than spoken about?

 

I’m not sure about ‘to’ as well as ‘about’, we should be ‘together’. And that is certainly the approach I have always deployed with UJS. One of my proposals is to have an impact study conducted by the gender equality officer to reach a clearer understanding of which areas of the community are least represented in the Board and to adjust the executive to allow for enhanced representation.

 

Of course this is just a step in increasing the dialogue with both peer led organisations and others such as the JLGB, youth movements and the UJIA who work with young people. I will also soon be coaching the newly appointed 20 year old JLGB Deputy .

 

I also wish to ensure young people are not tokens or just consulted but are an actual part of the decision making process.I am also by far the youngest person standing for President !

 

How will you use the Board’s profile and stature to shine a light on the great work of other communal groups?

 

The Board has an obvious imperative to promote its own work but the Board’s own work will be enhanced by a greater ability to work with other often more specialist organisations. To do the is the Board should be less insecure and be more prepared to share credit with and indeed promote the work of others. The Coroner case was a great example of this.

 

What will the Board look like in 3 years’ time under your leadership?

 

It will, with the participation of all of the Deputies, continue to be build on its enhanced standing within the community by providing leadership on the really important issues. Internally I would hope it will be a place where there is more debate, where people feel their voices can be heard and will make a difference, and a board becoming ever more diverse and in tune with the current zeitgeist.

 

What will the Jewish community look like in 3 years’ time under your leadership?

 

This is a big question indeed. I don’t think we should over state the relevance of the Board here. The Board’s role is to represent and serve but we mustn’t get above ourselves and think we can effect fundamental changes to this great community of ours.

 

For that we have multiples of differing spiritual and lay leaders and teachers, and institutions. The Board mustn’t be arrogant. There are clear trends within the community as are highlighted by the JPR and there is no reason to think there will be drastic change in the next three years unless some of the threats to the community are actualised and it is here that the Board can make its biggest difference.

 

It will take approximately 15 years based on JPR research for 50% of babies to be born to Charedi families .

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Simon Hochhauser

9 May

We asked each of the candidates 12 questions about their vision of the board. These are the responses we received from Simon Hochhauser.

Click here to return to the main post, but see how they answered the question above here.

 

What are the most pressing concerns you feel the community needs the Board of Deputies to focus on?

 

  • We must clearly remain laser focused on the growing public expressions of antisemitism, especially in the Labour Party.
  • Threats to religious practice are major concerns. Recently proposed legislation in other countries, could have a knock-on effect in the UK. 
  • The support and defence of Israel will be extremely pressing concerns especially in the event of a war between Israel and Iran or any of its proxies.  Mass demonstrations and expressions of antisemitism, as in the 2014 Gaza war, will require clear resolute and constant response by the Board.
  • The Board will need to do more to counter the under representation of women and younger people.

 

What is the one thing you love most about the Board?

 

I particularly love the passionate diversity of opinions.

 

What is the one thing that most frustrates you about the Board?

 

I am particularly frustrated when the passionate diversity of opinions strays into a lack of respect for the other.

 

What will you do to make plenaries and meetings productive?

 

The most important change will be to ensure that each plenary session contains a debate on a major topic.  Deputies will be asked to submit topics for debate.  The Executive Committee will be tasked with selecting topics and, where, necessary, agreeing modifications with the originator(s).  We will try different formats for debate.  For example, we can have the current method of individual speakers.  We could have a more formal debate with proposers and seconders of motions.  There would not necessarily be votes on issues.  Votes would not necessarily be binding but would show a strength of opinion.

 

How will you represent and work with people who you disagree with?

 

Representing and working with people I disagree with has been central to my twenty years in senior communal life.  The Board is nothing if not a joint body of people with diverse views who represent a community with similarly diverse opinions.  My personal views will be irrelevant in my role as President.  I will show no favour to any one view.  In representing the Community, I will express the consensus view when it exists.  Otherwise, I will represent the healthily diverse opinions on any topic. Diversity is the sign of a healthy community.

 

How will you represent the diversity of opinion in our community with regards to Israel?

 

Where consensus exists, such as on Israel’s security, the core principle of Zionism and BDS, I will state it robustly and often. Where there is diversity, on issues of individual Israeli policy, I will express the various views without favour. 

 

How will you continue the Board’s record of combating racism and antisemitism both in and out of the community?

 

Combating racism including (not ‘and’) antisemitism will be strengthened.  We will stand up to all expressions of antisemitism and not be afraid of being accused of over-emphasis on the subject. Its proponents will know that they are being watched and that there will always be consequences for them.  We will make robust interventions on all egregious expressions and forms of racism in the public debate. We will work on programmes of education and draw on the wealth of knowledge and skills provided by the CST.  We will work with other faith groups, government and NGO’s

 

Do we need a zero tolerance policy of racism in Jewish communal organisations?

 

Yes.  Racism is illegal.

 

How will you ensure that young people are spoken to rather than spoken about?

 

Speaking about young people and speaking to young people are not mutually exclusive.  Both are necessary.  I will engage with more young people in the work of the Board, and work with them on their concerns, through their representatives and using ever changing social media. More than speaking about and to young people, we need to hear from them and listen to them.

 

How will you use the Board’s profile and stature to shine a light on the great work of other communal groups?

 

Wherever relevant to the Board’s representational role, I will refer to the work of any communal institution which has a bearing on the particular topic.  I will invite communal groups to present their activities to the Board’s deputies.  Meetings with government, NGO’s, media and and other religious and social groups will include reference to any relevant community group.  Where possible, we will include representatives of the group in those meetings.  The JLC is a body representing the great communal institutions.  We will increase our cooperation with the JLC to ensure that the great work of communal group is highlighted, wherever and whenever possible.

 

What will the Board look like in 3 years’ time under your leadership?

 

The Board will be more representative of the community and its views.  It will command the knowledge and respect of a much wider cross section of British Jews than today.  It will be a more financially secure organisation.  It will be a confident, diverse but mutually respectful democratic representative of an amazing community.

 

What will the Jewish community look like in 3 years’ time under your leadership?

 

It will be a more self-confident, cohesive and secure community.  It will be comfortable in the knowledge that it has a representative Board of Deputies that truly expresses its concerns, its aspirations and its self-confidence.

Edwin Shuker

9 May

We asked each of the candidates 12 questions about their vision of the board. These are the responses we received from Edwin Shuker.

Click here to return to the main post, but see how they answered the question above here.

 

What are the most pressing concerns you feel the community needs the Board of Deputies to focus on?

 

Advocacy on all that threatens the welfare of the community and protects its interests. Chiefly this is challenging antisemitism and the BDS movement, and doing so side-by-side with genuinely engaging our constituents to draw crosscommunal policies and strategies on relevant issues. It is not enough to say that I have been elected to represent the Board, but rather that I have been elected to lead the Deputies.

 

What is the one thing you love most about the Board?

 

As a democratic institution, the Board genuinely represents our diversity, and this is our unique strength compared to other organisations in our community.

 

What is the one thing that most frustrates you about the Board?

 

That deputies feel their voices are not heard. As a refugee, I was so honoured when I was elected to the Board in 1991. However, I slowly began to realise that sitting in the plenary meetings, I was simply not empowered. I want to hear the voices of all Deputies and tap into their energy and skills.

 

What will you do to make plenaries and meetings productive?

 

Plenaries are the core of our work, and ever since they have been live-streamed, they have also been the face of our work. However plenaries do not show us in the best light. I am calling for a total change of culture, transforming the debate and presentations from top down to bottom up. Deputies should be part of the policy debate at inception, and I will work with the Deputies on the issues that they are most passionate about pursuing.

 

How will you represent and work with people who you disagree with?

 

I pledge to hear and to represent all deputies. It is vital that the Board’s elected leaders put aside any personal disagreements for the common good of the community.

 

How will you represent the diversity of opinion in our community with regards to Israel?

 

There is simply no diversity within the Board where it relates to the safety and security of the State of Israel. The Board should not interfere with decisions that are the prerogatives of the citizens of a sovereign country.

 

How will you continue the Boards record of combating racism and antisemitism both in and out of the community?

 

Under my leadership, the Board will continue its leading role in fighting antisemitism and racism in all forms. Events of the last few years have highlighted an ideological tolerance to antisemitism which must be uprooted. We should continue being at the forefront of advocating and educating for a more tolerant society. Society cannot pick and choose.

 

Do we need a zero tolerance policy of racism in Jewish communal organisations?

 

Absolutely. We cannot ask for zero tolerance unless we apply the same.

 

How will you ensure that young people are spoken to rather than spoken about?

 

Young people have always been at the front line of the work we do, whether it’s advocating for causes on campus, or learning in our schools and communities. So many communal leaders cut their teeth as activists and leaders in their youth.

I have always treated them as leaders not as future or potential. And will continue to do the same. This means working with the organisations that young people are part of, helping communities identify the leaders among their youth, and supporting the organisations that give them the opportunities to lead.

 

How will you use the Boards profile and stature to shine a light on the great work of other communal groups?

 

The Jewish community is blessed with many amazing organisations that are leaders in areas such as social care, mental health, representing minority groups, and youth. Everyone agrees that the Board cannot do it all, and rather than taking credit or ignoring successes, we should be playing the role of a true representative body: facilitating, highlighting, and empowering all that is successful.

 

What will the Board look like in 3 yearstime under your leadership?

 

The Board should be a hive of activity totally engaged with its constituents shaping the future of the community, with both our professional staff and dedicated deputies shaping the work that will ensure Jewish life continues to thrive.

 

What will the Jewish community look like in 3 yearstime under your leadership?

 

I hope that the community will be one that recognises the Board as an asset, and holds the unique position of the Board as the symbol of what unites us while respecting the divisions inherent in such a vibrant and diverse community.

Sheila Gewolb

9 May

We asked each of the candidates 12 questions about their vision of the board. These are the responses we received from Sheila Gewolb.

Click here to return to the main post, but see how they answered the question above here.

 

What are the most pressing concerns you feel the community needs the Board of Deputies to focus on?

 

  1. a) Antisemitism is currently the most pressing issue we face. Not just in the Labour Party, but also from the extreme Right and Muslim communities.
  2. b) Defending Israel against all anti-Zionist rhetoric and activity, such as the BDS campaign.

 

What is the one thing you love most about the Board?

 

The Board is the only Democratically-elected voice of British Jewry.  I am proud of the way we represent all shades of religious affiliation and political views.  We do not all agree with each other, but we provide the forum to have our views heard with respect and dignity.

 

What is the one thing that most frustrates you about the Board?

 

Not making the most of Deputies’ skills.  At the start of every triennium, we are asked to fill in a skills register.  I have done this three times.  Nothing ever happens to it.  There should be a definitive database we can draw from when necessary.  My Community and Education division needed legal advice to help draw up a contract with the Home Office for the Jewish Living exhibition, and after trying for months, no one could be found to help in time.   We had to work with another stakeholder, M&C Saatchi to get this done.

 

What will you do to make plenaries and meetings productive?

 

We need more debates, more speakers.  I’m sure the other candidates will agree with this.  I would like to see each division in turn suggest topics for debate, and to suggest speakers.  Workshops were a good idea initially, but have become stale and an excuse to leave early.

 

How will you represent and work with people who you disagree with?

 

I have a record of being collegiate and respectful whilst sticking to my own views.  There are testimonials at the end of my manifesto to attest to this.

 

How will you represent the diversity of opinion in our community with regards to Israel?

 

We have to listen to and respect all shades of opinion regarding Israel.  We know we will not all agree, but I have the experience of speaking to hostile audiences around the UK, and I clearly state that we are the Board of Deputies of British Jews, with a mandate to support and defend the UK community against any repercussions from the actions of the Israeli government, whilst still speaking up for Zionism.

 

 

How will you continue the Board’s record of combating racism and antisemitism both in and out of the community?

 

I have spent three years travelling over 50,000 miles around the UK speaking to non-Jewish children and other groups.  This work is vital to combatting antisemitism.  I regularly speak at interfaith forums and meet their leadership.  I successfully resolved an incidence of antisemitic rhetoric that was found on social media in South Wales.  I met with the leadership of the Muslim Council of Wales and received an unreserved apology, the offensive material was removed, a programme of education is the be established for their community and a peace vigil to be organised with the South Wales Jewish community.

 

Do we need a zero tolerance policy of racism in Jewish communal organisations?

 

Absolutely.  This does not mean we should only engage with like-minded people.  We should encourage all Jewish groups to join the Board, but there are red lines which cannot be crossed.  Calling Israel a steaming pile of sewage is not acceptable.

 

How will you ensure that young people are spoken to rather than spoken about?

 

We should work more closely with the UJS.  They are also democratically-elected and represent all shades of views and opinions.  We need to have more partnership working with them to fight antisemitism on campus.  We should engage young Deputies more meaningfully with the work of the Board; encourage them to join the divisions and make sure those meetings are held at a time that is convenient.

 

How will you use the Board’s profile and stature to shine a light on the great work of other communal groups?

 

We need to invite speakers from other Jewish organisations to address the Board twice a year.

 

What will the Board look like in 3 years’ time under your leadership?

 

We have definitely raised the Board’s profile over the past 3 years.  Feedback from the communities I regularly speak to are verypositive.  Under my leadership, we will retain this perception, but will increase people’s recognition for the way we conduct our meetings with respect and dignity; be seen as the forum where young people can engage enthusiastically with communal work; and be viewed by regional Jewish communities as being strongly supportive.

 

What will the Jewish community look like in 3 years’ time under your leadership?

 

The Jewish community needs a champion to fight antisemitism, but we also need to have a pride in who we are, to be able to hold our heads up high and say ‘I am a Jew’.  We need to send a positive message about everything we do to contribute to British society, and not just be victims.

 

Questions to the 2018 HO Candidates

9 May

Changing the Board is back for the latest elections! We wrote to each of the eleven candidates running for the Presidency and the Vice Presidential roles at the Board of Deputies.

Follow the links for each question to see how the candidates responded.

  1. What are the most pressing concerns you feel the community needs the Board of Deputies to focus on?
  2. What is the one thing you love most about the Board?
  3. What is the one thing that most frustrates you about the Board?
  4. What will you do to make plenaries and meetings productive?
  5. How will you represent and work with people who you disagree with?
  6. How will you represent the diversity of opinion in our community with regards to Israel?
  7. How will you continue the Board’s record of combating racism and antisemitism both in and out of the community?
  8. Do we need a zero tolerance policy of racism in Jewish communal organisations?
  9. How will you ensure that young people are spoken to rather than spoken about?
  10. How will you use the Board’s profile and stature to shine a light on the great work of other communal groups?
  11. What will the Board look like in 3 years’ time under your leadership?
  12. What will the Jewish community look like in 3 years’ time under your leadership?

 

You can also see each candidate’s responses to all the questions (listed here in the order they are in the Board’s emails):

What are the most pressing concerns you feel the community needs the Board of Deputies to focus on?

9 May

We asked each of the candidates 12 questions about their vision of the board. The candidates appear below in the order they are in the Board’s emails.

Click here to return to the main post, but see how they answered the question above here.

Sheila Gewolb

  1. Antisemitism is currently the most pressing issue we face. Not just in the Labour Party, but also from the extreme Right and Muslim communities.
  2. Defending Israel against all anti-Zionist rhetoric and activity, such as the BDS campaign.

Edwin Shuker

Advocacy on all that threatens the welfare of the community and protects its interests. Chiefly this is challenging antisemitism and the BDS movement, and doing so side-by-side with genuinely engaging our constituents to draw crosscommunal policies and strategies on relevant issues. It is not enough to say that I have been elected to represent the Board, but rather that I have been elected to lead the Deputies.

Simon Hochhauser

  • We must clearly remain laser focused on the growing public expressions of antisemitism, especially in the Labour Party.
  • Threats to religious practice are major concerns. Recently proposed legislation in other countries, could have a knock-on effect in the UK.
  • The support and defence of Israel will be extremely pressing concerns especially in the event of a war between Israel and Iran or any of its proxies. Mass demonstrations and expressions of antisemitism, as in the 2014 Gaza war, will require clear resolute and constant response by the Board.
  • The Board will need to do more to counter the under representation of women and younger people.

Marie Van der Zyl

The most pressing concern is clearly that of antisemitism in the Labour Party fuelled by the distrust of the community of the leadership of the party. However there are a range of other concerns or challenges for the Board including with the growth of the Haredi communities, social cohesion and within the constituencies of the Board youth alienation.

Amanda Bowman 

  • Fighting antisemitism, racism and extremism wherever it exists so that we can live safely and securely in a tolerant and open Great Britain
  • The positive contribution British Jews play and can play in Britain and our contribution to society
  • Defending our rights to a Jewish way of life including shechita, milah and faith schools
  • The polarising of attitudes to Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • The changing demographics of the community (the Jewish ‘centres of gravity’, ageing, decline in synagogue membership, rise in strictly orthodox) and its implications on social care, housing, education, etc.

Kim Cohen

The most pressing concerns the Community needs for the BoD to focus on are:

  • combatting anti-Semitism and rising extremism
  • reversing anti-Israel bias and anti-Zionism
  • advocate on behalf of the Jewish community to address the image of Jews in UK society

Robert Festenstein

  1. Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party specifically and the left generally
  2. Bias against Israel in the media

Denise Lester

Antisemitism. In all its forms. From the Labour party, on campus, in the media, schools, places of work, and on the street. Everywhere. From the intentional to the ignorant. So that every Jew no matter where they stand in terms of religious practice and none can live safely and securely as a Jew across the UK. I think there needs to be educational material and videos up on the Board’s website to explain to the non- Jewish community what it is and why it cannot be tolerated. Also safety and security for our community working with the CST, police and other professionals. Dignity for Jews. Also education of the Jewish identity, way of life for and why it is so important to us. Good inter- faith relations too.

Gary Mond

The continuing battle against anti-semitism, the defence of the legitimacy of the state of Israel and the improvement of the relevance of the Board to the Jewish community in the UK. Additionally, we will find that we also have to defend our Jewish religious traditions such as brit milah, shechita and kashrut.

Tal Ofer

In my view the community needs the Board to focus on combatting antisemitism, fighting BDS and delegtimisation of Israel, protecting religious freedoms such as Shechita and Milah and deepening interfaith relations with other faith groups, including the ones who are not Abrahamic religions. In addition, protecting and supporting our students is very important, as they are the future leadership of our community. I’m the VP candidate with the track record and the most to offer on the community’s key issues

Roslyn Pine

Issues of anti semitism in all its guises. Countering BDS. Wholehearted support for Israel. Preventing events like Al Quds day. Ensuring that students can express their Judaism/ Zionism on campus without fear of intimidation and violence. Ensuring that Jews are free to practise their religious beliefs, like Brit Milah and shechita.

What is the one thing you love most about the Board?

9 May

We asked each of the candidates 12 questions about their vision of the board. The candidates appear below in the order they are in the Board’s emails.

Click here to return to the main post, but see how they answered the question above here.

Sheila Gewolb

The Board is the only Democratically-elected voice of British Jewry.  I am proud of the way we represent all shades of religious affiliation and political views.  We do not all agree with each other, but we provide the forum to have our views heard with respect and dignity.

Edwin Shuker

As a democratic institution, the Board genuinely represents our diversity, and this is our unique strength compared to other organisations in our community.

Simon Hochhauser

I particularly love the passionate diversity of opinions.

Marie Van der Zyl

I love its democracy. It is one of the most unique institutions within the British community. It isn’t something to be taken for granted and certainly not subverted but rather it should be cherished and protected.

Amanda Bowman

I love the diversity of the Board Meetings. They are like a simcha of a distant relative: being seated between the soulmate you’ve never met before and someone with completely opposing views. Deputies exemplify the rich mix of today’s British Jewry. It’s a very special thing to have a regular opportunity to be with such a diverse group. We may not agree but when we debate, the wide range of contributions are always helpful. I also love that we have regained our place as the acknowledged primary spokespeople for British Jews and are seen as credible, respected and representative.

Kim Cohen

The BoD reaches out to all sections of the broad spectrum of the Jewish community through its democratically elected representatives. This inclusivity along with the passion of my fellow deputies has impressed me in the 3 years I have been on the Board. 

Robert Festenstein

It has a familial approach.  It was very reassuring to receive condolences from the HOs, members of staff and deputies when my mother passed away in January this year.

Denise Lester

I love the fact that it is the only democratically elected body that represents the Jewish Community for the common good with dedicated deputies from many organisations with diverse opinions, diversity in age, gender and religious practice. Every single Deputy I respect, admire and wish to engage with.

Gary Mond

The camaraderie among Deputies. I really enjoy chatting with fellow Deputies about the issues of the day, even with those whom I profoundly disagree.

Tal Ofer

The rich history and the respect it has both inside and outside our community. I’m very proud to be part of the Board and represent it wherever I go.

Roslyn Pine

Having the opportunity to connect with Jews across the spectrum, both in terms of age and religious affiliation.