Chairs Message: January 2014

With 2014 in full swing I am delighted to report that the JLC facilitated a meeting between Jewish communal leaders and Prime Minister David Cameron. Although this meeting is a now an annual fixture in the Prime Minister’s calendar, we do not take it for granted and we ensure that it is constructive and meaningful by assiduously preparing for it and ensuring that its contents are relevant for both the Prime Minister and the community. The press release issued after the meeting can be seen below and reflects the tone, warmth and high level of engagement in the discussions with our communal leadership. A number of follow up items were agreed and the JLC will work with our members to ensure that these are dealt with effectively and efficiently.

The JLC is shortly to undertake a consultative exercise as part of a process initiated by the Government of Israel. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has been tasked by Israel’s Prime Minister and Cabinet with preparing a consultative constitutional document with a view to establishing a formal state framework rooted in the ideal that that Israel is committed to operating as both a Jewish and Democratic State. The JLC has agreed to make every effort to collect and articulate the perspective of our community, recognising that there are likely to be a range of opinions and a plurality of views. JLC will play an entirely facilitative role in this regard and it is our view that the process and conversation itself will be a valuable one for our community.

I was privileged to attend the launch session of Lead’s senior leadership programme for the Jewish community, GAMECHANGERS, and meet with the 16 participants of the programme. To say that each of them is impressive and inspiring is an understatement and this augurs well for our community going forward. The room exuded enthusiasm and innovative ideas as the challenges facing the community were discussed. I particularly enjoyed the Q&A session that followed my presentation. It was clear that all the participants are keen to help develop and better the community. Along with the JLC Council, I eagerly await the recommendations that the participants are due to put forward at the end of the GAMECHANGERS programme.

Holocaust Memorial Day, a significant date in the Jewish and UK calendar was marked on the 27th January. The day provided an important opportunity to remember the atrocities of the Holocaust as well as the opportunity to learn from what happens if racism and hatred go unchallenged. With the number of survivors shrinking each year, Holocaust remembrance and education becomes increasingly important.

Simon Johnson and I are about to embark on an extended “road-show” to our members to report on our activities in 2013 and lay out our priorities for 2014. At the recent Council of Membership meeting, the business plan for 2014 was greeted with much enthusiasm and I am pleased that the JLC is well placed to serve its members and the community in the years going forward.

I was saddened by the recent passing of Ariel Sharon. Sharon was a controversial figure but no-one can deny his dedication to the security of Israel and the Jewish People and his outstanding career as a soldier dedicated to that cause. Whatever ones political affiliations, no-one can gainsay his courageous leadership when as Israel’s Prime Minister he searched for peace.