1. What motivates you to be involved in communal life?
A desire to give back what the Jewish community has given me as a convert – a new way of looking at things, a deeper understanding of tradition and how to keep it alive, and a sense of common destiny for a better world to come. With my background in journalism, government, consultancy and now in higher education, I hope that I can use my skills to make a difference.
2. What is the most exciting project that you are currently involved in?
Working with the Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism, Rabbi Danny Rich, to devise a three year strategy to coincide with our movement’s biennial this year. Judaism has never stood still. Liberal Judaism is cutting edge, so our task is to work out what exactly this means over the next three years, in ways which take all our 30 plus communities with us, and build on our success in growing membership and appealing to people from different backgrounds and age groups.
3. How has the community changed in recent years from your perspective?
The task of leadership – rabbinic or lay – is to look ahead, and not just over one’s shoulder. I am seeing a more confident and forward-looking leadership of Britain’s Jewish community, and more women and younger people speaking up about the direction our community should be taking. There is a real respect for how a small yet influential movement such as Liberal Judaism reaches the parts that possibly other parts of the Jewish community cannot reach.
4. What are the biggest challenges facing the community today?
Two main challenges: building a thriving Jewish community, based on appreciating its breadth and depth, and the different lifestyle choices of its members. If we are confident of our position, we should not play on demonising positions with which we disagree. The second challenge is Israel. We are destined to make more, not less, of our relationship with Israel. Israel needs to engage better, and more meaningfully, with its Diaspora, and we need to better understand Israel, including its relationship with its own Arab citizens and Palestinian neighbours.
5. How has the JLC added value to your work in the community?
By holding its nerve, and showing in practical ways that it can take a strategic view for the community as a whole, in specific fields such as education, community development and policy advocacy. I talk up the JLC, and wish more people would have the courage to do so. It is very English – and bourgeois – to be constantly apologetic about something we should take some pride in.