Just before the summer I was honoured to be asked to speak at Shimon Peres’ ninetieth birthday conference – Facing Tomorrow. I spoke on a panel addressing issues of future leadership, together with my USA counterpart Malcolm Honlein, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations. The American Jewish community is facing particular challenges in the area of leadership. This has been caused by the expected retirement of the long-standing CEOs of a number of major communal agencies combined with a perceived lack of new personalities entering the system on a lay level. The session was a great opportunity to articulate the growing array of leadership initiatives being delivered by Nicky Goldman and her team in our LEAD Division. It was reassuring to hear from the many other Diaspora communities represented at the session that our work in this area is viewed as ahead of the curve and in some instances as models of best practice.
This month the JLC CEOs’ group bids farewell to long standing CST Chief Executive Richard Benson. In addition to the vast contribution he has made to CST itself, Richard has always been a staunch supporter of closer communal collaboration through the JLC and was directly involved in supporting the founding of the Council. We are delighted that Richard will continue to sit as a member of our Commission on Youth Provision. We are also pleased to congratulate Richard’s successor at CST, David Delew, upon his appointment and look forward to working with him. In a similar vein we wish Leon Smith every success as he continues his forty years of leadership at Nightingale Hammerson by moving into an Ambassadorial role, and welcome incoming CEO Helen Simmons.
As a national body we are always looking for ways to engage with regional communities around the UK. Our recently announced Community Chest funding for the Board of Deputies has enabled them to launch the new Communities Partnership Project which will massively enhance provision in this area. I am particularly pleased that we have arranged a major Q & A session open to all members of the Manchester community next month – the panel will include Vivian Wineman representing the Board of Deputies, BICOM CEO Dermot Kehoe and myself. I will also be spending time with communities in Leeds, Scotland, Brighton and Bournemouth over the coming month.
As we look ahead to the High Holy Day period I am pleased that we are able to reflect back on a year in which the JLC has grown not just in terms of our membership base, but also in terms of our ability to engage with the key strategic issues that pertain to the future sustainability of our community. We have also amply demonstrated that we are not just about talk and that the JLC is able to deliver community-wide action in those areas where it matters most. The work of our Women’s Commission is now being implemented by the Women in Jewish Leadership Project in partnership with the Board. Our work in leadership and school strategy continues apace through our PaJeS and Lead Divisions. We initiated and led the partnership that delivered the memorable Closer to Israel 65 event in Central London and jointly coordinated the campaign that led to the EU-wide ban on the political wing of Hizballah following our meeting with the Prime Minister in January. The start of the new Jewish year will see a renewed focus on social care with a new mapping project and website and the initial report of our Commission on Youth Provision which we launched with UJIA earlier this year.
As we reflect upon these exciting and important developments I wish you and your families a ketiva v’chatima tova.