Last month our member organisations joined the wider voluntary sector in breathing a huge sigh of relief at the news that the Chancellor reversed Government plans to impose limits on tax relief for major charitable donations. The impact of those measures would have been felt disproportionately within the Jewish charitable sector. We campaigned hard on this with the wider charity sector. Later this month the CEOs of JLC member charities are meeting with Nick Hurd – Cabinet Office Minister with responsibility for the Third Sector. That meeting will now be able to focus upon the many other challenges we currently face, from the impact of Equalities legislation to the current economic climate.
Working in close partnership with the Board of Deputies we have played a central role in ensuring that communal concerns are heard over controversial proposals tabled at the General Synod of the Church of England. The idea that the Church should formally align itself with the EAPPI (The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel) programme which promotes a highly partisan perspective is deeply troubling. This followed recent attempts by Christian Aid and the Quakers to adopt parts of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) agenda and the failure to act against Rev Sizer, the Surrey Pastor with a penchant for citing hate websites. We are worried that these events as well as recent comments from a few Bishops in the House of Lords appear to be putting at risk the tremendous work that Christian and Jewish groups have done over the last sixty years to promote mutual respect and understanding. The suggestion made by some that promoting BDS is a way to get the Jewish community to engage with them is particularly perverse. I take comfort in the fact that at grass-roots level the picture is very different – the pushback against recent problems in the Methodist Church is a firm example of that.
As Mick Davis says above we are proud to be launching the final report and recommendations of our Commission on Women in Jewish Leadership. We established this Commission in an effort to deal with a situation that meant a large pool of potential talent was not being harnessed by our institutions. I was privileged to sit together with Jewish Care Chairman Steven Lewis as one of the two male Commissioners. Laura Marks and her committed and passionate team have made a seminal contribution that will impact on communal life for years to come. I am heartened that the findings have been endorsed by the CEOs of all our member organisations, who have, crucially, committed to lead on implementing the findings.