Chair's Message: November 2012

Once again our newsletter is highlighting a number of important developments in the field of Jewish schooling. We make no apology for this. JLC's newest Division, PaJeS (Partnerships for Jewish Schools) led by Jonathan Goldstein and Alastair Falk has already hit the ground running. In addition to staring to implement our reorganisation of the North East London Jewish schools, we are proud that next month PaJeS will be delivering the first communal conference on Special Educational Needs in recent history. The need to do more in this area was highlighted by our original Commission on Jewish Schools. The partnership on this issue between ourselves, the Board of Deputies and Norwood is committed to ensuring that the conference is just the start of this process. On the theme of delivery and implementation, I am also pleased to report the start of the process of ensuring that the recommendations of our recent JLC Commission on Women in Jewish Leadership has been adopted and taken up by the relevant institutions around the community. Together with the Board of Deputies we have taken central responsibility for delivering the recommendations around the theme of Governance, and funding the 'Award for Change'.

As part of our work on localism, JLC members have recently engaged in a programme of outreach to MPs from constituencies that contain or are close to smaller Jewish communities. A consistent piece of feedback from those parliamentarians is the sense that they would like to spend time engaging with local shuls and at local communal events. Normally we are not backwards in coming forwards as a community, but it is clear that more could be done. As the localism agenda continues, this kind of engagement becomes more critical than ever. We will be encouraging and facilitating this engagement via the Board and its individual Deputies and through the Synagogue bodies that sit around the JLC. As Chanukah approaches I hope that communal organisations and shuls around the country will be considering inviting their local MPs, MEPs and Councillors to join them for candle lighting and a doughnut. In a similar vein I echo the calls of a number of my JLC colleagues urging members of the community to turn out and vote in areas where the first ever elections for Police Commissioners are taking place shortly. Apathy and a lack of engagement in these elections presents the real danger of hostile and extremist voices using these elections to gain profile and support.