The Board of Deputies of British Jews

Board of Deputies
Community Briefing
Board of Deputies out in force at Limmud Festival
The Board of Deputies was out in force at the annual Limmud Festival in Birmingham, celebrating the dynamism of Jewish life and learning.

Ten sessions were held on subjects including researching antisemitism, boosting synagogue membership, nationalism in Europe and the campus environment. There was also a stand promoting the Board of Deputies’ Jewish Living outreach programme.

Attending at different points throughout the week were Senior Vice President Richard Verber, Vice President Marie van der Zyl, Vice President Sheila Gewolb, Chief Executive Gillian Merron, Director of Public Affairs Phil Rosenberg, Parliamentary Officer Joel Salmon and Medical Advisor Professor David Katz.

Chief Executive Gillian Merron said: “It is so important for the Board of Deputies to be part of Limmud, where 2,500 people from across the world – and across all political and religious affiliations – come together to learn, debate and exchange ideas. As the UK Jewish community’s democratic and cross-communal body, that is what the Board of Deputies is all about.”

Welcome for Jo Johnson’s commitment to free speech on university campuses 

Board of Deputies Vice President Marie van der Zyl has welcomed Universities Minister Jo Johnson’s stand on free speech at university campuses.

Marie said: “Over the last couple of years, Jewish students have been subjected to the most outrageous abuse and intimidation when seeking to discuss Israel, including when they are discussing the routes to peace. Notorious incidents occurred at Kings College London and University College London. Regrettably, universities often find themselves floundering, unable or unwilling to provide adequate protection for these events. This must urgently change.

“We are pleased to note that the Minister will make exceptions for where there is a risk of extremism or hatred, including antisemitism. To aid this, we would urge universities to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism which the Government adopted last year.”

Singer’s decision to pull out of Israel concerts ‘reeks of double standards’

Board of Deputies Senior Vice President Richard Verber has reacted to the decision of the singer Lorde to pull out of concerts in Israel.

Richard said: “This is the wrong call by Lorde which reeks of severe double standards. While, during this tour, she will still play Russia, despite notorious and flagrant abuses in that country’s domestic and international human rights record, she will boycott the world’s only Jewish state, which strenuously seeks to protect human rights even while defending its citizens from a decades-long onslaught of terrorism.

“Rather than using her music to bring together Israelis and Palestinians, Lorde has caved in to the bullying of a loud lobby backed by some of the world’s worst human rights abusers. She should reflect on this and reverse her decision in due course. When she does she will receive a warm welcome and no doubt understand the situation a lot better.”

Board of Deputies Activity

President Jonathan Arkush paid tribute to former MP and Deputy Eric Moonman, who died at the end of December. Jonathan said: “Eric was a longstanding deputy who served the Board with distinction. He was one of a select group of Deputies who were Members of Parliament. He was absolutely dedicated to our community and Israel, as well as to his parliamentary life, and was a hardworking public servant. As I came to know over time, he cared deeply over a vast range of issues in society and was an eloquent speaker. He became a good friend to me and I feel his loss.”


Senior Vice President Richard Verber was quoted in a BBC website article entitled, What is the festive season like if you don’t celebrate Christmas?


Interfaith and Social Action Officer Anthony Silkoff wrote the ‘Human Rights Thought for the Week’ for human rights charity Rene Cassin.


Vice President Marie van der ZylChief Executive Gillian Merronand Finance and Operations Director Greg Lyons met Senior Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Alex Fenton and Debbie Reeves to discuss the Board of Deputies’ ongoing relationship with Reform Judaism.



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