You can read about the history of the JLC on our history page.
The JLC is made up of the heads of major Jewish organisations, people who give their time and energy to run these important institutions. They are committed volunteers, and are appointed by their own organisation. Every Jewish organisation chooses how to appoint its head. Some, like the United Synagogue and Board of Deputies, elect their heads in open elections. Others are elected by the member organisation’s Executive Committees or management boards.
Appointment to the JLC’s Council of Membership is actually extremely similar to how Deputies are appointed to the Board of Deputies. While many Deputies are elected in an open ballot, others are appointed to the Board by the executive committees of member organisations.
The Council of Membership democratically elects the JLC’s trustees and ensures that the JLC acts according to what its members decide. Most of the JLC’s decisions are taken by consensus, ensuring the widest possible support.
The JLC represents only its members – those organisations which have chosen to join the Council. This range of organisations includes synagogues, care organisations, education charities, regional Representative Councils and the Board of Deputies.
However, the policy environment has become increasingly specialised. CST are the experts on antisemitism, while care organisations like Jewish Care and Norwood know all the details of social care policy. The JLC brings all of these experts around the table to discuss policy issues with the Board and with each other, to help formulate and implement plans.
The President of the Board of Deputies is also President of the JLC’s Council of Membership, and a formal liaison committee regulates the relationship between the Board and the JLC. The Board and JLC run joint projects together such as the Fair Play Campaign Group. Staff from the JLC and the Board speak many times every day.
Of course, the Board of Deputies is a democratic body which has many diverse opinions among its 250 Deputies. Just as you can always find MPs who oppose every Government initiative, so there are backbench Deputies who are opposed to the Board’s relationship with the JLC as well as those who support it. However, the Board’s elected leadership works closely with the JLC, and the JLC is committed to maintaining its strong relationsip with the Board.
Recognising this as a symptom of wider issues in the Jewish community, the JLC helped foster the New Leadership Network, which supported and developed younger chairpeople for some of the major organisations. Several of the current younger members of the JLC have come out of NLN. The Zionist Youth Council has recently joined the JLC to represent the Youth Movements.
Perhaps it is understandable that a body made up of the heads of organisations will have fewer young people on it. On the issue of gender equality, there are no such excuses. Relatively few Jewish organisations are headed by women. This is a major concern for the JLC, leading us to establish and support a Commission on Women in Leadership in the Jewish Community. This commission will report with definite recommendations in 2012.