Q&A: Steven Lewis, Jewish Care

1. What motivates you to be involved in communal life?

Being Jewish teaches me the responsibility to help others in whatever capacity one may be able - whether financially or by giving time as a volunteer.

2. What is the most exciting project that you are currently involved in?

Having just taken on the Chairmanship of Jewish Care (after 20 years of involvement), the challenge of co-ordinating a superb professional and lay leadership team, together with volunteer support is my current priority!

 

3. How has the community changed in recent years from your perspective?

Whilst the Jewish Community have been incredibly generous there are many people who have made significant amounts of money over the past decade. We need to engage them in the way that our parents were supportive of communal institutions. Society has become more materialistic. The challenge that many lay leaders have is to engage younger people, enabling them to step up to the mark, take positions of responsibility and give generously or perhaps more importantly, responsibly!

 

4. What will your top priority be when you take over the chair at Jewish Care later this year?

To increase the support that we have from the community at all levels whether it is giving money or time. As Chairman of Young Jewish Care between 1990-4 I learnt that both are equally important. I have always taken the view that if someone wants to get involved we will always find a role for them. The famous cup of coffee has worked wonders over the years. I intend to do a lot more of that going forward!

 

5. How have the JLC and New Leadership Network added value to your work in the community?

Obviously Jewish Care has been the charity that I have been closely associated with for many years but I do support many other causes. I feel very strongly that we have to work together. That is why I have been so supportive of the JLC. Unfortunately, we live in a society where we like to criticise but it's far better for us to work together in an open transparent way rather than separately which only causes more division. If people believe that you run your organisation in a transparent fashion, which has been our ethos at Jewish Care, then the majority will support you. It is also important when mistakes are made that you hold your hands up, apologise and work out a way to improve things going forward. The New Leadership Network has provided a forum for people in their late 30's and 40's who are coming through the Jewish Community activism path, get closer, work together and become an example of how strong personal relationships can benefit the Community. The ambition is now to engage more people to show the benefits of this Network.