Government Officials Experience Jewish Big Society

Civil servants from five Government Departments toured the Jewish community on 09 April 2013.The purpose of the tour was to enable civil servants who deal with Jewish communal issues to see the community, to hear directly from the community and to be able to ask whatever questions they wished. The tour was highly successful and was much praised by both participants and those whom they had met.

The tour was jointly organised and staffed by CST, Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies, with the Chief Executives of all three organisations spending the day with the group. It was the third such tour, following that of November 2011.

The civil servants attended from a range of Government departments, including the following: the Departments of Communities and Local Government; Transport; Business Innovation & Skills; Ministry of Justice; Foreign & Commonwealth Office; and the Home Office.

The tour itinerary was as follows:

  • Visit to Jewish Social Action Hub (J-Hub)
  • Tour of North West London Jewish Day School, Kilburn. Question and answer session with head teacher, Rabbi Kerbel.
  • Tour of Dennington Park Road synagogue, led by JLC Vice-President Henry Grunwald OBE QC (former President of the Board of Deputies)
  • Tour of Norwood Kennedy Leigh Centre led by Chief Executive Elaine Kerr
  • Presentation on overview of communal issues by Jeremy Newmark, JLC, Jon Benjamin, BoD, Richard Benson, CST
  • Presentation regarding Charedi Jewish community by Chaya Spitz, Interlink Foundation
  • Presentation on youth engagement by Neil Martin, CEO JLGB
  • Presentation on Enterprise by Shraga Zaltzman, Train-e Trade
  • Tour of Jewish Museum and participation in ’Remember Me’ programme on the Jewish experience of World War I, on the home front and in the British Armed Forces.

Comments on the tour:

Sally Sealey, a Policy Adviser at the Department for Communities and Local Government said:

One of the most amazing things about the tour is how much innovation there is in the Jewish community. The tour was a real eye opener on the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes from supporting poor Arab communities in Israel to providing jobs and training for people with special needs. It makes you realise that Britain has a vibrant, active Jewish community that we can all learn from.

CST Chief Executive Richard Benson said:

Our partnership with Government is an important part of CST’s work. We are pleased to have played a role in organising this visit and are delighted it was such a success.

JLC Chief Executive Jeremy Newmark added:

This visit was a critical component of our work to ensure that key Government officials deepen their understanding of the agencies and institutions that make up our community and the challenges that we face. It always has a lasting impact upon the officials who participate.

BoD Chief Executive Jon Benjamin said:

Days like this are exceptionally helpful in showing officials with whom we enjoy a good working relationship exactly who we are as a community and what are our concerns.  There is a perception that the community is well served by its institutions, which is true, but that does not mean that there are not real issues and challenges that communal organisations and individuals face and with which government can help to find solutions.