Chair's Message: June 2014

On the 11th June, the JLC held its annual event for Peers in the House of Lords to mark the festival of Shavuot. We were joined by more than 30 Jewish peers or those with an interest in Jewish matters. Those present heard a moving presentation from Lord Sacks on the messages from this time of year and from the Ambassador for Israel, H.E. Daniel Taub on the challenges faced by Israel.  This was part of the community’s engagement with policymakers and has a valuable place in the calendar.

The JLC and a number of partner organisations have begun to work more closely together to ensure that we as a community can respond more effectively when we encounter a threat to the legitimacy of the State of Israel here in the UK, whether it is within a Local Authority, a trade union, on a university campus or within a church body. Attacks on the legitimacy of Israel are disturbing to the community as a whole as Israel rightly is at the epicenter of the Jewish identity of many in this community. Countering deligitimisation is therefore a communal imperative which is most effective when all those who support the right of the State of Israel to exist and be a legitimate member of the family of nations cooperate in this cause. The environment today is complex and fraught with difficulty. While we all may not agree on the best way forward to achieve a lasting peace and may even disagree with the policies from time to time of the elected government of Israel we all find common cause in our support of The Nation State of the Jewish People: Israel.

There has been much debate generated by the forthright and brave comments of my fellow Trustee, Steven Lewis, the Chair of Jewish Care, about the level of charitable donations given by people within the community. I am certainly aware that very few people in our community are aware of the cost of providing all of the communal services, nor quite how dependent we are for those services on a relatively small number of donors. As a community, it is an urgent challenge to broaden the number of donors to communal institutions, particularly amongst the younger generation and to inculcate a sense of communal responsibility into our charitable giving. It is also true that some core communal services, such as political representation, leadership, education and research are tougher to raise funds for. The Community Chest has been successful in stepping in to support these services. We are coming to the end of the first cycle of funding from the Community Chest and we will soon need to engage in a new cycle of funding. Again it was the same few who supported the Community Chest and many were skeptical and did not step forward in the way that one would have hoped that they would. These core services are vital for the future vibrancy of this community and I hope that we will find greater success in broadening the funding base and thereby create a legacy of success for future generations.