Board of Deputies – Community Briefing 13th July 2017

Board of Deputies
Community Briefing
Synagogue leaders react to trends in synagogue membership report
Synagogue movement leaders have reacted to a newly released report commissioned by the Board of Deputies and carried out by JPR which shows that synagogue membership has declined despite there being a record number of synagogues in the UK.

Newly elected president of the United Synagogue, Michael Goldstein, told the Jewish News that “one of the most important messages to take out of the recent JPR report is that none of us can take our membership for granted”.

He added: “Gone are the days when people would join a shul as a matter of course. Today we need strong local communities who connect meaningfully with all of their members and who express values that speak to people living in the 21st century. For the United Synagogue this means embracing modernity, articulating our commitment to inclusivity and retaining a commitment to our authentic, Orthodox tradition.”

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi of the Movement for Reform Judaism, told the JC that the report “underlines that we are two communities going in very different directions. People are increasingly rejecting a Judaism that does not reflect their values”.

Matt Plen, chief executive of Masorti Judaism, which was the only mainstream organisation to increase its membership, said: “We have been particularly successful in attracting young families and this promises further growth in the future,” he said.

Synagogue membership in the Charedi community has risen 139 per cent since 1990, the report found. Rabbi Avraham Pinter, chairman of the external affairs committee of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, said: “We are proud that we have such an engaged and growing community and particularly the number of young members our synagogues have.”

Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism, said the massive growth in the strictly Orthodox sector — at the expense of mainstream Orthodoxy — could transform the nature of Judaism in this country “from outward-looking and inclusive to introverted and isolated. That would be bad for British Jewry and bad for Britain”.

Read the Daily Telegraph story here and the full Synagogue Membership report here.

Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg has been busy in Stamford Hill this week, helping to build relations between the Charedi community and Government, including the Prime Minister’s Faith Adviser Jonathan Hellewell and the Deputy Mayor of London Matthew Ryder.
Pictured (from left) Herschel Gluck, President of Shomrim in Stamford Hill, Jonathan Hellewell and Phil Rosenberg

Welcome for Sadiq Khan’s call to ban Hezbollah

Board of Deputies Vice President Marie van der Zyl has reacted to Sadiq Khan’s call for the Home Secretary to fully ban Hezbollah.

She said: “This is a welcome step by the Mayor which is fully supported by the Board of Deputies. Hezbollah itself does not distinguish between its military and political wing, which are one and the same. The Government urgently needs to follow the example of the USA, Canada and the Arab League by outlawing Hezbollah in its entirety. It is a terrorist organisation – end of.”

Read the JC story here.

Norfolk schoolchildren learn about Jewish way of life 

A group of schoolchildren from Norfolk have spent a day learning about the Jewish way of life on A Board of Deputies Jewish Living Tour

The Year Eight students from Norwich Girls School were given a tour of Elstree & Borehamwood Synagogue, heard a talk from Holocaust survivor, Revd Bernd Koschland and enjoyed a kosher pizza lunch supplied by Eli’s Pizzas.

After lunch, the group travelled to Edgware for a guided tour of Jewish shops. 

Board of Deputies Activity

Parliamentary Officer Joel Salmon hosted the first ever Board of Deputies Students and Young Professionals Committee meeting. If you are interested in being part of the committee, planning opportunities and events for young people and involving them in the work of the Board of Deputies, please email Joel at


Director of Public Affairs Phil Rosenberg and Interfaith and Social Action Officer Anthony Silkoff met Ahmed Versi, Editor of the Muslim News. They discussed issues relating to interfaith relations between Muslims and Jews in Britain.

Phil Rosenberg and Anthony Silkoff met Marigold Bentley from Quakers in Britain to discuss Christian-Jewish relations.

Chief Executive Gillian Merron attended the Council of Christians and Jews’ public policy seminar “Faith, Identity and Populist Politics: what is the future for freedom of speech in the UK?”

Gillian Merron, Phil Rosenberg and Anthony Silkoff met Dr Edie Friedman from the Jewish Council for Racial Equality and Dr Omar Khan from the Runnymede Trust to talk about work to tackle racial and religious prejudice against different groups.

Vice President Marie van der Zylattended an event at BAPS Swaminaryan Mandir in Neasden for trustees honoured by the Queen.


Vice President Sheila Gewolb and Education Development Manager Sara Perlmutterdelivered Judaism workshops to over 180 Year Nine students to St Thomas More School over two days.

Sara Perlmutter presented the revised Jewish Living Exhibition at a Great Get Together event organised by the Hertsmere Interfaith Forum.


President Jonathan Arkush participated in the annual board of directors meeting of The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany in New York. While there, he also met with Ambassador Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress and CEO Robert Singer to discuss upcoming cooperation between the two organisations.

International Relations Officer David Walsh took part in the ROI Summit 2017 in Jerusalem. ROI Community is an international network of activists and change makers who are redefining Jewish engagement for a new generation of global citizens.


Phil Rosenberg met with Jonathan Hellewell, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister, to discuss the Jewish community’s current main policy priorities. Phil also participated in a tour of Stamford Hill with Jonathan Hellewell, including a meeting with Shomrim.

Phil Rosenberg helped organise a visit of Deputy Mayor of London Matthew Ryder to Stamford Hill, meeting colleagues from the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, the Interlink Foundation and Hatzola.


Marie van der Zyl attended a briefing by Dr Gil Trovoy at the Israeli Embassy.

Phil Rosenberg attended the annual Isaiah Berlin Lecture, delivered by Daniel Taub, on the Centenary of the Balfour Declaration.

Phil Rosenberg attended the launch of a new report by BICOM, entitled “A Future for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking”.


Joel Salmon and Interfaith and Anthony Silkoff attended an event in London marking Srebrenica Memorial Day.

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