Chair's Message: March 2012

As world Jewry reflects upon the Toulouse tragedy, it provides a stark reminder of the impact that extreme political discourse around Zionism and Israel can have upon Diaspora Jewish communities, and of the importance of maintaining the infrastructure for both the physical and political defense of our community. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims. Together with the Board of Deputies we have sent messages of condolence and solidarity to the leadership of the French Jewish community.

In this vein it is particularly important that this month’s newsletter reports on the relaunch of the Fair Play Campaign Group, our centralised vehicle for responding to anti-Zionist activity in a coordinated manner. I am pleased that this continues as a joint enterprise between the JLC and Board of Deputies. It is also a matter of pride that my native community in South Africa have adopted this as a model of best practice and launched a sister organisation FairPlaySA based upon the same concept. As many of the challenges as well as the political and communal structures are similar this is a tremendous example of tackling a global problem in a global manner.

Next month we launch the Community Chest, an initiative to secure funding for causes essential to the functioning of our community, but lacking a stable funding base. As I said to the JC, this is about lifting our game beyond the current default whereby key communal functionality relies upon begging, stealing and borrowing from the same group of people.

I was delighted to attend the first open meeting of our Commission on Women in Jewish Leadership last week. It drew an impressive turnout of over 100 people and was a great opportunity to hear first hand about the issues and proposals being addressed by Laura Marks and her team.