Board Deputies

Board of Deputies
Community Briefing

Home Secretary praises ‘immense’ contribution of UK Jews at Chanukah Parliamentary Reception

Left to right: Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Chief Executive Gillian Merron, President Jonathan Arkush and ITV’s Political Editor Robert Peston. Photo: John Rifkin

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has praised the “immense” contribution of Britain’s Jewish community at this week’s Board of Deputies’ Parliamentary Chanukah reception.

The event, hosted by Robert Halfon MP, was attended by more than 100 parliamentarians and others including Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry MP, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, ITV’s Robert Peston and Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely MK.

Ms Rudd said: “The contribution of the Jewish community of this country has been immense and I want to ensure that the Government always recognises that so we can all benefit from it.

“The Jewish community is a model of integration but despite that, there are terrible people who wish to do terrible things.”

She added: “Today the Prime Minister made her announcement to formally accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism. This will make it more straightforward to get prosecutions so that we can call out and take action against those who undertake antisemitic attacks.

Emily Thornberry said: “The events of the last year have had enormous ramifications for our communities and there has been a rise in racism and particularly antisemitsm. We need to have faith in one another and respect for one another.”

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis congratulated Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush for the “outstanding manner in which you are leading and representing our community.”

He said: “Let us dedicate ourselves to ensure that the spirit of Chanukah stays with us for the entire year. Never underestimate the power we have to ensure that light prevails over darkness.”

Robert Peston, ITV political editor, described his own experiences of antisemitism.

Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush spoke of his pride to be “in the mother of parliaments with more than 100 parliamentarians celebrating Chanukah with us.”

He added: “One of the most important things we have is our relationships with our parliamentary friends and colleagues. Thank you for the advocacy and support you give us year in and year out. Our community appreciates it very much.”

Following the speeches, guests were entertained with songs sung by the choir of Alma Primary School, Whetstone.

To see video highlights of the reception, click here. Read the JC storyhere and the Jewish News article here.

President Jonathan Arkush  holds a basket of Israeli goods which will be donated to a Salvation Army project helping the homeless in south London for IsrAction Day. This Sunday is your chance to support Israel by buying Israeli goods and donating them to those in need during the holiday period. For a list of collection points to drop off Israeli products on IsrAction Day, contact Sussex Friends of Israel,North West Friends of Israel or the Zionist Federation.


‘Warm welcome’ for Government adoption of IHRA antisemitism definition

President Jonathan Arkush has  ‘warmly welcomed’ the Government’s adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism:

Jonathan said: “With antisemitism on the rise it has become essential to have a clear definition against which to assess attitudes that are or may be racist.  The adoption of the IHRA formulation will bring clarity and consistency and I warmly welcome its adoption by the Government.”

Read the Jewish News story here.


‘Profound disappointment’ as Corbyn attends book launch hosted by anti-Israel group

Vice President Marie van der Zyl has expressed “profound disappointment” at the news that Labour  Leader Jeremy Corbyn this week attended an event hosted by controversial group the Islamic Human Rights Commission.

Marie said: “it is profoundly disappointing that the Party leader saw fit to attend a book launch hosted by the Islamic Human Rights Commission. This is an organisation which organises Al Quds Day – an Iranian-backed anti-Israel event which every year features the flying of a flag of antisemitic movement Hezbollah.”

Read the full statement here

Board of Deputies Activity


Senior Vice President Richard Verber issued a statement condemning an attack targeting the Coptic Christians in Egypt in which 25 people lost their lives. Read the statement here. richard also condemned the terror attack last weekend in Istanbul in which 44 people lost their lives.Read the statement here.

Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg attended a Q&A with US Ambassador Matthew Barzun hosted at Twitter HQ. 

Phil Rosenberg attended a Christmas reception at the Polish Embassy. 

President Jonathan Arkush met Israel’s Deputy foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely MK at a private breakfast briefing.

Jonathan Arkush and Grassroots Consultant on Israel Steven Jaffe spoke at a gathering of Christian Watchmen over Zion in central London where they were introduced to a number of church leaders and pastors. Deputies Edwin Shuker and Dori Schmetterling also spoke at the event.

Steven Jaffe participated at a gathering of Friends of Israel groups from across the UK hosted by the Israeli embassy, which included workshops and planning sessions.

Steven Jaffe was interviewed by Jennifer Neville for a number of Christian radio stations on the subject of anti-Israel extremism.

Steven Jaffe joined staff from the Israeli embassy, UJS and the Jewish Agency to attend the Southampton versus Hapoel Be’er Sheva Football match. Steven’s blog about the match can be read here.

In Miami, Vice President Sheila Gewolb and husband Roger, Deputy for St John’s Wood, were given a conducted tour around the Jewish Museum of Florida by its Executive Director Jo Ann Arnowitz and Jonathan Symons, a member of Sutton and District Synagogue in South London and a part-time Floridian.


Jonathan Arkush, Vice President Marie van der Zyl and Chief Executive Gillian Merron attend the Conservative Friends of Israel lunch at which the guest of honour was Prime Minister Theresa May.

Phil Rosenberg attended a Christmas event hosted by Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq in Parliament.

Jonathan Arkush attended the Foreign Secretary’s Christmas Reception at Lancaster House.


Jonathan Arkush, Marie van der Zyl and Interfaith and Social Action Officer Anthony Silkoff participated in the Liberal Jewish Synagogue’s Interfaith pre-Chanukah Service and Celebration, co-hosted by Rene Cassin, the Jewish human rights NGO.

Jonathan Arkush gave an address as guest of honour to the League of British Muslims’ Annual Celebration of interfaith relations and community cohesion in Ilford. Anthony Silkoff also attended.


Jonathan Arkush addressed the Spanish & Portuguese Congregation, Lauderdale Road at Shabbat morning service.

Jonathan Arkush attended the Annual Dinner of Masorti Judaism. 


WJL, a project of the Board of Deputies, convened a meeting of the Women’s CEO Forum, hosted by Nightingale Hammerson and supported by Lead.


The Jewish Living Experience exhibition at St Albans Cathedral was extended by four days and attracted 200 extra visitors. Education Development Manager Sara Perlmutter conducted training with Education Centre volunteers at the Cathedral.

Sara Perlmutter attended a volunteer management training course with the Jewish Volunteer Network.

Sara Perlmutter attended JLGB volunteer fairs at Yavne College, JFS School  and Immanuel College.

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