Following the conclusion of the 2020 Labour Leadership and Deputy Leadership election, Jonathan Goldstein, Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council said:
“We congratulate Sir Keir Starmer on his election as Labour Leader and Angela Rayner on her election as Deputy Leader. We hope that this will be the beginning of a healing process between the Party and our community. Along with our partners, we look forward to discussions with the new leadership as to how we can all move forward and eradicate the scourge of anti-Jewish bigotry that has infected the Party.”
As the coronavirus emergency deepens, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the JLC have collaborated in creating a new online forum to work together at a level never seen before.
Together with their professional teams, Gillian Merron, Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies, and Simon Johnson, CEO of the JLC have brought together CEOs as well as skilled professionals in areas such as fundraising, communications, HR and operations to pool resources and skill for the benefit of the community.
This new initiative, which harnesses the power of Microsoft Teams, allows groups to work in specific areas and for leaders to be connected nationally to work collaboratively. This together with regular Zoom calls with communal CEOs and Chairs is offering a vital way to communicate in the current climate.
The JLC is primarily focusing on work with communal organisations, supporting their needs and those of their leaders, including advising on issues of financial sustainability. Meanwhile, the Board of Deputies is primarily focusing its efforts on supporting Jewish life, dealing with all matters that will affect Jews now and beyond the current emergency, including securing a legislative change in the Coronavirus Bill to prevent Jews and Muslims being cremated against their will. The respective professional teams are maintaining close contact and utilising their resources to ensure work is efficiently covered in a way that ensures we can have maximum impact.
Simon Johnson of the JLC said: “The JLC and the Board of Deputies are working flat out together to help build resilience in the community during this challenging period. However tough this situation is, it is heartening to see how both the community is pulling together and how our institutions are finding new ways of collaborating to address the immediate need.”
Gillian Merron commented: "Our two organisations are successfully harnessing all our skills so that we can cover all sides of the situation without any duplication. By doing this and by making use of technological solutions we are ensuring the Jewish community has the benefit of all of our shared expertise."
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Celebrating all who work with the Jewish community and for equality
Each February in the UK marks LGBT History Month. This month is a way for all people to celebrate the contribution of LGBT people to the UK, acknowledge the fight for equality and promote the key tenets of inclusion and diversity & the benefits to the public.
At the JLC we wanted to find a way to embrace this, to profile the people and projects within our member organisations that are working towards LGBT equality and advancing inclusion. When many within our community have experienced concerns about growing prejudice targeting Jewish people, this month offers an opportunity to focus on a positive part we can all play in protecting and providing for the diverse people within our community.
We have reached out to all our members and are collating responses; we wanted to hear about the different projects and the amazing people that are making a difference. Each project or person plays a vital role in helping to shape the future of LGBT inclusion within the UK Jewish Community, and it is a pleasure to be a part of highlighting that to the rest of the community.
Over the past few years, the Jewish Community of the UK has been through a lot, there has been more focus on us in the media, in politics and on our streets and we have been resilient and loud in our response to calling out antisemitism wherever it has taken a hold. Our members have been at the forefront of this as well as running a myriad of other projects, including positive ones like the ones we are highlighting here.
Some of those highlighted have been involved in improving inclusion in their places of work including with training from Keshet UK. Some feature the dedicated professionals and volunteers who are contributing to religious life, community services and enriching Jewish culture. Some showcase the broader benefits to organisations and communities of harnessing the rich diversity of identities and talents of those who bring their full selves to their work. ALL the people and projects demonstrate the solidarity, strength and joy that come from fighting for equality and embracing diversity.
We are so proud that our member organisations cover a broad range of expertise and that they reflect such a large proportion of the UK Jewish Population. We hope that in highlighting these projects, everyone can feel a little more proud of our community.
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I’ve always been a fan of Chanukah, I mean - 8 days of doughnuts, what’s not to like? But growing up, there was one aspect that excited me the most.
For some, it’s the thrill of presents, whether 8 small or 1 large. I remember my friends and siblings using the Argos catalogue as some kind of mystical advent calendar, leaving it in obvious places with relevant page corners turned down in hopes of receiving the latest fad.
For others, it’s the joy of candle lighting, the chance to play with fire in a parentally sanctioned way. Show me the child who doesn’t enjoy turning the candle just that bit too long when trying to drip the wax into the holder for added safety...
And those arguments about what exactly constitutes a latke? Just potato? Potato and egg? Onion or not? Or most controversial of all, my grandmother’s matzo meal batter with neither potato or onion, served with sugar and cinnamon after candle lighting? Readers, I am imagining your horrified faces at that suggestion, even my own husband is probably forcing a smile at seeing me in print whilst screaming inside “BUT THOSE ARE BUBBELAS! FOR PESACH!!!” (Trust me, matzo meal latkes rock. Worth every calorie).
But I’m a showbiz luvvie, so above the smell of the grease and the roar of the fryer, it was all about the Chanukah concerts. Whether in the synagogue hall, school or community centre, these events were the highlight of my year. Even Purim couldn’t hold a candle to them. Heading out in your costume on a dark wintry night seemed like the height of glamour. The building would be decorated, the Ladies Guild / PTA / Volunteers would have put out tables of treats, there would be games and activities - dreidel spinning for the kids, roulette for the adults (same same, but different), eating doughnuts without licking your lips (oh no! I’ll have to try again!) And before that, we would get to perform.