Board of Deputies Community Briefing

Board of Deputies  
  Community Briefing  

Candidates clash on boycotts and shechita in first ever Jewish hustings for the Welsh Assembly


Left to right: Stanley Soffa, President of the South Wales Jewish Representative Council, Amelia Womack, Dafydd Trystan Davies, Eluned Parrott, Mark Drakeford, Board of Deputies Vice President Sheila Gewolb, Mohammad Asghar, Sam Gould and Gillian Merron

Candidates were divided on the important Jewish issues at the first-ever Jewish hustings for the Welsh Assembly elections, which took place at Cardiff United Synagogue on Sunday.

Assembly candidates from six parties tussled over the issues raised in the ground-breaking Jewish Manifesto for the National Assembly for Wales, in an event chaired by Board of Deputies Chief Executive Gillian Merron and organised by the Board of Deputies and the South Wales Jewish Representative Council.

The main disagreements were on Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel and religious slaughter (shechita).

Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, described boycotts as a legitimate part of protest.

Plaid Cymru chair Dafydd Trystan-Davies said he opposed boycotts, but believed in a robust dialogue with Israel, a view echoed by Liberal Democrat Assembly Member, Eluned Parrott, who felt that boycotts would alienate Israel and stop its government coming to the negotiating table.

Labour’s Mark Drakeford, the Welsh Government’s Health Minister, said that criticism of Israel’s government was legitimate – noting that Israel had a vibrant democracy and internal criticism – but said that he opposed boycotts.

UKIP’s Sam Gould said that his party had consistently opposed boycotts of Israel, and that the EU’s anti-Israel stances were a good reason to vote to leave.

Conservative Assembly Member Mohammad Asghar said that David Cameron had been very clear in his opposition to boycotts. He added that, having personally been to Israel, he could say that it was ‘a great country, that will be here forever’.

The Conservative, Plaid Cymru, UKIP and Lib Dem candidates also pledged their support for Jewish religious freedoms. But Labour’s Mark Drakeford said that there was a need for a wider discussion with faith communities about stunning animals before killing them, while the Green’s Amelia Womack said that labelling of meat products should be much wider and include whether meat was killed by the kosher method.

The Manifesto – the first ever Jewish policy document to be published in Welsh and English – was produced by the Board of Deputies and the South Wales Jewish Representative Council in time for the Assembly Elections on 5 May, and contains policy requests on a range of issues ranging from antisemitism to Israel, shechita and brit milah to Holocaust education, interfaith relations and social action.

A similar debate was held by the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council in Scotland on Thursday, with candidates gathering at Giffnock & Newlands Synagogue to debate a Jewish Manifesto for the Scottish Parliament, this time produced by the Board, the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities and the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council.

To read a full report of the hustings, click here.

Scottish hustings (left to right): Ross Greer, Scottish Green; Jackson Carlaw, Scottish Conservative;Paul Morron, President of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council; Ken Macintosh, Scottish Labour;Stewart Maxwell, SNP; Paul McGarry, Scottish Liberal Democrats


‘Concern’ over new NUS president Malia Bouattia
Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush has reacted with “concern” to the election of Malia Bouattia as President of the NUS.
Jonathan said: “We are deeply concerned by the failure of new NUS president Malia Bouattia to satisfactorily clarify past remarks and associations. 
“There can be no excuse for associating with organisations which have a history of antisemitism, equivocating on terrorism or considering Jewish societies on campus as ‘a challenge’. 
“Jewish students have as much right to feel safe on campus as anyone else, and as a president tasked with representing the welfare and concerns of all students, Ms Bouattia must live up to her responsibility and take the concerns of Jewish students seriously. 

“Ms Bouattia claims she will fight all forms of racism including antisemitism, and this should also include exceptional and discriminatory attacks on the right of Jews to self-determination, or terrorism directed against Jews in Israel or abroad.




“We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Union of Jewish Students and demand that our students are enabled to study hard and enjoy campus life, without any fear or intimidation.”

To read the JC report, click here. For the Jewish News story, clickhere.

Board of Deputies: We must alleviate plight of child refugees

Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush has issued the following statement after peers voted to accept Lord Dubs’ amendment to allow 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees into the UK from Europe. The House of Commons is to debate the issue on Monday.

He said: “It is a Jewish religious imperative to care for those who are alone and vulnerable. It is not so long ago that Jewish children fleeing from war and persecution gained refuge in this country on the Kindertransports. Lord Dubs was himself such a child. The aim of bringing unaccompanied child refugees to this country is therefore laudable and we must make all reasonable efforts to alleviate their plight.”


Board Activity


Yom HaShoah UK invites the entire community to stand together and join it for the UK National Commemoration Event “Remember Together – We Are One” taking place on Sunday 8 May at 2pm at Barnet Copthall Stadium. The aim is bring together the largest ‎gathering of the Jewish community to remember together the loss of six million and to pay tribute to the survivors and refugees for the remarkable contributions they have made to the Jewish community and wider UK society‎. To book your free tickets, click here.


Chief executive Gillian Merronand Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg, plus Chaya Spitz from the Interlink Foundation and Rabbi Avrohom Pinter, Principal of Yesodei HaTorah Senior Girls’ School, met Owen Smith MP, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, to discuss the serious challenges to larger families posed by the new Welfare Act. To read a report of the meeting, click here.


Government Affairs Officer Dawn Waterman attended the Civil Service Jewish Network’s first annual Passover reception “Exodus: Passover and the refugee crisis.” The Minister for Syrian Refugees, Richard Harrington MP, spoke about his work across government to resettle Syrian refugees in the UK, and World Jewish Relief (WJR) presented their projects providing humanitarian aid to refugees in Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece.


Grassroots consultant on Israel Steven Jaffe met  the Isle of Man Friends of Israel in Douglas. Steven also met Leonard Singer, the first Jewish member in the 1,000 year history of the Tynwald, the Isle of Man parliament. Steven met Raymond Harmer, a member of the House of Keys, Jewish community organiser Carol Jempson, outstanding Christian clergy and friends, Israelis and members of the Jewish community. At the Manx museum, the story of the Jewish Internees during the Second World War is the subject of two moving displays.




Phil Rosenberg and International Relations Officer David Walshmet diplomats at the Russian Embassy to discuss historical revisionism, antisemitism, Russian Jewry in Europe and related issues.

The official London commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Farhud, the 1941 pro-Nazi pogrom in Iraq, is to take place on 2 June from 7pm-9pm in Maida Vale. Anyone interested in attending should click here.


The Jewish Social Action Forum (JSAF) produces a round-up of events and notices from across the community for the month of April. Click here to see the bulletin. Support Refugees is the Jewish response to the refugee crisis – a ‘one-stop-shop’ for those looking to volunteer, campaign, donate and learn about refugee issues. Their latest monthly newsletter can be read here. Sign up to theirnewsletter  to receive the latest news and volunteering opportunities from the community.


Board President Jonathan Arkush officially welcomed delegates at the opening ceremony of the European Union for Progressive Judaism Biennial Conference at the Guildhall.


Education Development Officer Sara Perlmutter and Dawn Waterman attended the Academies Show 2016 at ExCeL in London. The Government has recently published its White Paper Educational Excellence Everywhere.

Vice President Sheila Gewolbvisited Westcott CE Primary School in Aylesbury and gave a Passover presentation to children aged five to seven. 


21 APRIL 2016
13 NISAN 5776

Shabbat times:

LONDON 7.51pm/9.07pm
MANCHESTER 8.05pm/9.24pm
LEEDS 8.03pm/9.23pm
GLASGOW 8.21pm/9.46pm



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