Over the past month my diary took on a particular rhythm. Almost every day that was not a Jewish festival was a political party conference. Communal engagement with the party conferences remains an important opportunity to ensure that our voice is heard by political leaders on a range of policy issues is that matter to the community. It is also a moment where outward facing communal bodies and relevant interest groups are able to work as a team in ensuring that our issues are not simply drowned out amidst all of the other noise and chaos. The joint meetings held by JLC and Board of Deputies representatives at the conferences provide a particularly effective and unified voice.
One of the benefits of the conferences moving away from traditional seaside venues to city centres has been the ability to slip away from the conference environment and spend time with the local Jewish communities. I was particularly pleased to have been able to join the Manchester community for their annual interfaith coffee morning held in the succah of former JLC member Lucille Cohen which is featured below. The presentations about the succah at this event were expertly and appropriately delivered by Lucille’s granddaughters, all products of Manchester’s excellent Jewish schools. Earlier in the month, we were also able to see at first hand the way in which the Brighton community have pushed back against the attempts to turn the opening of a local SodaStream store into a point of division and conflict due to the company’s links with the State of Israel. It is particularly ironic to see this kind of activity targeting an environmentally friendly company happening in constituency that was the first to elect a Green MP.
Our Q and A section this month features UJIA Chairperson-elect Bill Benjamin. Bill is no stranger to the JLC, already serving as a Trustee by virtue of his recently completed term of office as co-chair of the Assembly of Masorti Synagogues. Bill leads our ongoing JLC Community Vitality Project, which will shortly move into its next phase. We have just completed a detailed data-mining exercise looking at the feedback from the many focus groups we held around the country. We will shortly be publishing our interim findings and starting to shape some practical measures and approaches for ensuring the resilience and vitality of key communal institutions and services. We wish Bill many congratualtions in his new role and know he will be a great success. We also wish outgoing UJIA CEO Doug Krikler every success in his new role. Doug coupled part of his time at UJIA with the role of the first CEO of the JLC. He has remained a valued member of our CEO’s Consultative Group ever since. We are pleased to welcome Michael Weiger as the new UJIA CEO. During his previous stint in the UK Michael was involved in our original Commission on Jewish Schools.