Board Deputies 2th february 2017

Board of Deputies
Community Briefing

Arkush condemns Trump ban on refugees

Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush has condemned Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees.

He said: “Bans based on national origin are indiscriminate and unjust. They would be unlawful in U.K. law. While we all understand the need to properly check those who enter our countries, this needs to be balanced with compassion towards the plight of those fleeing for their lives.

“This is a dismaying beginning to a new US Administration. Good government needs cool, rational judgments delivered professionally, not hasty policy-making on the hoof. All those who respect and admire the USA’s commitment to freedom will call on President Trump to review this misconceived Executive Order.”

President Jonathan Arkush and Vice President Marie van der Zyl are interviewed for Channel 5 News during their Muslim engagement visit to Bradford. See story below


Jewish community responds to UCL report on disturbances

Following the publication of a UCL report on the disturbances and intimidation during a talk by Israeli author Hen Mazzig in October, Jewish community leaders met the UCL Provost to discuss its contents and implications.  

The delegation, led by Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush, and including representatives from the Union of Jewish Students, Jewish Leadership Council, University Jewish Chaplaincy, the Community Security Trust and the Co-Presidents of the UCL Friends of Israel Society, issued the following statement.

“We commend Professor Rees and UCL for a report that is thorough, detailed and balanced. We note that it recognises that UCL failed to protect freedom of speech and accepts that changes are needed to safeguard students.

“The report found that there was a deliberate and concerted effort to disrupt freedom of speech by student activists at London universities.

“The Report identified five students at UCL who should be referred for disciplinary action as a result of their role in the events of the night of 27 October.

“The Report makes far-reaching recommendations to strengthen procedures to guard against a repetition of such incidents in the future.

To read the full statement and to read UCL’s report, click here.


Board of Deputies team engage with Muslims in Bradford

President Jonathan Arkush, Vice President Marie van der Zyl and Interfaith and Social Action Officer Anthony Silkoff spent two days in Bradford to further the Board of Deputies’ engagement with Muslim communities. An intensive schedule included meetings with Naz Shah MP, Imran Hussain MP and community organisations including the Bradford Council of Mosques and the Muslim Women’s Council. The Board team were also hosted as special guests at a Bradford Cathedral Holocaust Memorial service by the Bishop of Bradford and the Dean of Bradford Cathedral.

A highlight of the two days was a visit to Eternal Light Muslim Secondary School in the city, where Jonathan and Marie held an hour-long question and answer session with students. Topics covered included Zionism, women’s rights and religious rituals.

Headteacher Yusuf Collector said: “It is vital we give our young people the tools to combat prejudice and mistrust. Our session today with leaders of the Jewish community will have a profound and lasting impact.” Seehere for a newspaper report on the school visit, and here for a report on the other engagements.

Board of Deputies Activity


President Jonathan Arkush has responded to a report by the Community Security Trust showing a record level of antisemitic incidents in this country. Jonathan said: “While the UK remains a very good place for the Jewish community, these highest-ever figures are deeply worrying, particularly in light of the fact that there was no single trigger event in 2016. It is clear that combating antisemitism will take a concerted effort by the country’s political leadership, government and civil society. In these uncertain times, we should strive to make the UK a beacon of a society that abhors racism and champions respect between all its citizens.” Read the report here.


Jonathan Arkush has condemned last weekend’s attack on a mosque in Canada. Jonathan said: “I am horrified by last night’s senseless terrorist attack against the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre. There can be no justification whatsoever for the wanton slaughter of innocents. We pray for the victims and their families, and call on all communities to redouble efforts to defeat the evils of bigotry and terrorism for good.” Senior Vice President Richard Verber has written to the Canadian High Commissioner to express condolences.

Richard Verber met Radoslav Pavlovic, adviser for cultural affairs of the President of Republic of Serbia, to discuss issues of mutual concern.

Chief Executive Gillian Merron and chief executives from other community organisations, met Gideon Sa’ar, former minister in the Israeli government, to discuss the UK Jewish community and the political situation in Israel.

Jonathan Arkush attended the annual dinner of World Jewish Relief.

Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg met Louise Ellman MP, James Floyd and Noam Mirvis from the APPG on Britain-Israel to discuss opportunities to celebrate UK-Israel relations in Parliament.

International Relations Officer David Walsh took part in a commemorative 10k run in Rome alongside other members of the World Jewish Congress – Jewish Diplomatic Corps. The event was organised by the umbrella Union of Italian Jewish Communities under the auspices of the government and in collaboration with the Rome Marathon and the Maccabi Italia Association. More than two dozen Jewish, civil, government and sports bodies supported the initiative. The race was featured live on Sky News Italia.


Government Affairs Officer Marcelle Palmer met Emma Lawrence, Transport for London’s Communications and Engagement Officer, Equalities, to discuss issues related to public transport experienced by the Jewish community.


Jonathan Arkush and Phil Rosenberg attended the unveiling of the 10 shortlisted teams’ concept designs for the new National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre at 10 Downing Street. The designs, which have been produced by some of the world’s very best architectural talent, are available to view online and the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation want to hear from you. Consultation with the public, those working in the field of Holocaust remembrance and education, as well as technical experts will play a crucial role in informing the final decision of the jury. You can view the designs and have your say here.


Vice President Marie van der Zyl spoke at a Holocaust Memorial Day event in Liverpool.

Vice President Sheila Gewolb represented the Board of Deputies at the Luton Holocaust Memorial Day event at the University of Bedfordshire. The programme included performances by the Luton Male Voice Choir and the Stopsley School Players. Sheila gave an interview for BBC Three Counties Radio, which was broadcast on Sunday. Listen here. Sheila addressed the Barnet HMD event held in the Quadrangle at the Middlesex University in Hendon. Also attending was Grassroots and Advocacy Consultant Steven Jaffe and there was a performance by the Zemel Choir.

Jonathan Arkush attended a Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration at JW3.


Richard Verber ran a Limmud Manchester session on the Board of Deputies’ work and led a discussion about how to advance engagement in the north west.

Phil Rosenberg met Chaya Spitz, Chief Executive of the Interlink Foundation, to discuss ongoing policy work.


Interfaith and Social Action Officer Anthony Silkoff forged a new partnership with Jami, the Jewish Association for Mental Illness, in support of this week’s Mental Health Awareness Shabbat, ‘Head On’. Parliamentary Officer Joel Salmon and Government Affairs Officer Dawn Waterman attended the launch event at Cockfosters & New Southgate Synagogue, which was sponsored by the Board of Deputies. Jonathan Arkush has written an opinion piece highlighting the need to destigmatise discussion of mental illness in our community, which will be published in the coming days. For further details of participating synagogues please see the Head On website here.


Jonathan Arkush met JCORE chair Adam Rose, and director Edie Friedman.

Phil Rosenberg and Anthony Silkoff met Nic Schlagman of the West London Synagogue. They discussed the Board of Deputies’ current social action and interfaith work, and how the Board of Deputies can further support the Jewish social action community


Anthony Silkoff organised a training day on antisemitism for clergy in the Monmouth diocese of the Church in Wales, including the Bishop of Monmouth. The training, led by Professor Alan Johnson – editor of BICOM’s journal Fathom – provided a historical context for antisemitism, an overview of the main sources of contemporary forms of antisemitism, and guidance on how to differentiate between anti-Zionism, criticism of Israel, and antisemitism.

Phil Rosenberg met Alex Fenton from Reform Judaism and Mudassar Ahmed from the Concordia Forum to discuss future opportunities in Muslim-Jewish relations.


The Board of Deputies is looking to put on its Jewish Living Experience exhibition around the country in 2017/18. We would like Deputies and community members to support efforts to find suitable venues. If you are able to help or want to know more about the project, email or click here for more information about the exhibition.

Vice President Sheila Gewolb visited Cockermouth School in Cumbria where she gave an introduction to Judaism to 12-13 year-old students. They have been studying the Holocaust, but have had no previous education about Jewish people living in the UK today. She also visited Seaton Church of England Primary School, near Workington, and spoke about the Jewish perspective on prayer to eight- and nine-year-olds.

Richard Verber ran a public training workshop for sixth formers at Yavneh School

Education Consultant Sandra Teacher visited Curwen School in Barking to award the Religious Education Quality Mark.

Sandra Teacher has been appointed as an external adviser to the Department for Education in the Open Free Schools National Core and Free Schools Group.

Phil Rosenberg addressed students about the Jewish community, interfaith and public policy. Phil and Dawn Waterman took a tour of the school and met Headteacher Spencer Lewis to discuss the current education policy landscape.

Education Development Officer Sara Perlmutter attended the APPG on Religious Education discussion on religious literacy.

Sara Perlmutter attended the Al-Khoei Foundation Teaching Islam conference.

The final “Twilight” Judaism teaching session was delivered this week in partnership with PaJeS to Clifton Diocese teachers.

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