Chair's Message: March 2014

Earlier this month the JLC facilitated a community wide consultation on the concept of the Jewish and Democratic nature of the State of Israel. This exercise was commissioned by the Government of Israel who are engaging in a similar fashion with Diaspora Communities around the world. A diverse crowd of communal leaders and activists, lay and professional, gathered to discuss and debate perspectives on a variety of live issues. These included visions of a Jewish and democratic state that attach equal value to both propositions, attitudes towards a possible new Israeli constitutional configuration, and possible implications for our community in terms of engagement with Israel in sectors including youth and education provision. Also explored was Israel advocacy and philanthropy as well as several other topics. In addition, we received numerous written submissions, together reflecting a significant level of consensus amongst contributors on these issues. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of this process and indeed the conversation itself, which provides a valuable opportunity for diaspora communities like ours.

In keeping with our mission of ensuring that our member organisations have access across the political spectrum we were delighted to organise a dinner with Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband. It is important that our concerns and challenges are well discussed at meetings such as these and that our contribution to the broader society is well understood. The dinner was extremely successful and I thank all those involved for organising it. You can read more about the evening in our recent initiatives section further on in the newsletter.

I extend my best wishes to the new recruits of Lead’s Adam Science Programme who are about to embark together on their year long leadership development journey. I have watched numerous alumni of the programme develop to become key figures in a multitude of communal organisations in the programmes 21 year span and I have no doubt that this year’s cohort, through the experiences and opportunities provided, will grow to meet the challenge and follow in their path.

The Commission into Youth Provision sponsored jointly by UJIA and the JLC presented its findings this month. This is an important piece of work and the Commission has made very significant findings and recommendations. A copy of its report can be downloaded from the JLC website. I am grateful to Jeremy Isaacs for chairing the commission and for the dedication of his team of fellow commissioners. We now move into the implementation phase and I am particularly pleased that Lord Jonathan Kestenbaum has agreed to chair the implementation group. Jonathan has a profound understanding of this community and a particular empathy for the challenges and imperatives of our youth.  We, together with the UJIA, will work to assembling a group to support him in this important endeavour. You can read a further update by Dr. Helena Miller in the ‘Working with our Members’ section.