Speaking on behalf of the Jewish delegation, Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Goldstein, Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, Gerald Ronson CBE, Chair of the Community Security Trust and Mike Katz, Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said:
"We were grateful to Keir Starmer for making the time for today's meeting.
"We began the meeting with a discussion of the current Coronavirus crisis and an expression of our solidarity with black people in the face of the reminders of their experience of racism on both sides of the Atlantic.
"We then moved on to consider the progress that had been made on tackling antisemitism since Sir Keir's election as leader and our first meeting with him a few days after that.
"There was broad agreement that things are moving in the right direction, albeit with a long way still to go due to the scale of the mess that Sir Keir inherited. We urged Sir Keir to:
- Take a tough line with MPs, senior Labour figures and other members who still trade in the tropes and behaviours of the last few years;
- Continue to make strenuous efforts to detoxify the culture of the Party in relation to the Jewish community, including the accusation that antisemitism was falsely used by Jews to smear the former leadership;
- Publish the documents relevant to EHRC inquiry at the earliest opportunity that he is able after it is released; and
- Proceed with all due haste to the implementation of his pledge to implement an independent disciplinary process, beyond the reach of factional considerations.
"Overall, we give credit where credit is due and thank Sir Keir for the progress made so far, and hope to be able to reflect on further advances in the fight against antisemitism in the Labour Party at our next meeting in October."
The Jewish Leadership Council are delighted to welcome the Jewish Volunteering Network (JVN) as our latest member.
JVN are the primary national hub for volunteering opportunities across the Jewish community and in 2017 was awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
During the Covid-19 pandemic inquiries to JVN for volunteering opportunities in the Jewish community and wider society have significantly increased and the organisation has become central to the community’s response to the crisis.
JVN already have a relationship with the JLC through the joint Lead-JVN Annual Trustees Conference for leaders of Jewish charities and during the pandemic created a joint platform for furloughed staff from Jewish organisations to access volunteering opportunities. JVN Chief Executive Nicky Goldman was previously the Executive Director of Lead, the leadership development division of the JLC.
Michelle Janes, Joint Interim Chief Executive of the JLC said:
“Volunteering is essential to the success and sustainability of the Jewish community. It is important that those who give their time and energy to our community through their volunteering have a voice and can be supported through JVN. In line with the JLC’s renewed mission of connecting and coordinating the Jewish charitable sector, we are thrilled to welcome JVN to the JLC.”
Nicky Goldman, Chief Executive of the Jewish Volunteering Network said:
“We believe that volunteering changes lives, communities and society and everyone can be encouraged to do it. We look forward to working together with the JLC, expanding our reach across the community and continuing to create opportunities for volunteers.”
The Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) is delighted to announce that Claudia Mendoza and Michelle Janes are to be appointed Joint Interim Chief Executive Officers with effect from 23rd June 2020.
To ensure maximum continuity, current Chief Executive Simon Johnson has agreed to remain with the JLC as Company Secretary and as a consultant until the end of the year.
Claudia is currently the JLC’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs. She has led her team on some of the most significant moments our community has seen for generations. She joined the organisation in 2011 bringing her expertise in policy, public affairs and relationship building.
Michelle is currently the Executive Director of Lead, the Leadership Development division of the JLC. She has brought her strengths in organisational and strategic development as well as relationship building to enable success for teams and individuals across communal organisations.
They will be taking on this role alongside their existing responsibilities. Simon has been CEO Since October 2013. He announced on 1st February 2020 that he intended to step down.
Commenting on the appointments, Jonathan Goldstein, the Chairman of the JLC said: “We are delighted to introduce new Interim Leadership for the JLC to give us continuity, advance our strategic projects, led ably by David Davidi-Brown, and to maintain the efficiency of our operations. Having spent considerable time with both Claudia and Michelle, we are of the view that they have the full complement of
skills to guide the JLC through these challenging times building on the excellent platform developed by Simon. The Trustees are enthused about the impact this change could make.
We also wish to thank Simon for his sterling service over the years. He has led the JLC with distinction. We will be sorry to see him go and wish him well for the future”
Claudia Mendoza said “It is a tremendous honour to be leading the JLC with Michelle through this difficult period. I am hugely proud of our community and my priority will be to magnify and amplify the voices of our members, many of whom are exemplars of the very best of civil society”.
Michelle Janes said “It is with pride and honour that I am able to bring my varied skills and experience to lead this organisation along with Claudia. Our members are at the heart of all we do and together with them we will strive to strengthen and support the growth and development of our wonderful community”.
Simon Johnson said “I am delighted that Claudia and Michelle have been appointed to act as Interim CEOs. They have both been hugely valuable colleagues, well respected amongst the members, in the wider community, and beyond. I am thrilled that their talent has been recognised as leaders of the superb JLC team. They will do an outstanding job and will be extremely well supported by Director of Community Strategy, David Davidi-Brown. I am pleased to remain as Company Secretary of the JLC until the end of the year to ensure the timely handover of JLC’s outstanding governance”.
The Jewish Leadership Council are at the forefront of assisting communities across the whole country in effectively dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic.
Like all communities during this unprecedented time, we are constantly monitoring the situation to ensure the vulnerable in society are cared for. As is being reported in wider society, charities are facing the dual pressures of a major reduction in income whilst demand for their services has dramatically increased. This has led to the JLC undertaking a series of initiatives to support social care charities and those families struggling financially due to redundancy.
Since their election, the JLC and regional Representative Councils have enjoyed an excellent working relationship with Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram. We are grateful that they have taken time to address concerns raised by our community and member organisations during this difficult period. We have been assured that our requests for action have been heard and will be relayed back to national government.
MARC LEVY – JLC NORTH WEST, NORTH WALES & WEST MIDLANDS EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MANAGER
“We are grateful that Andy and Steve have once again made time to engage with the JLC and the Jewish community. Ever since they have assumed their roles, we have always enjoyed regular, open and constructive dialogue. Their concern for the wellbeing of the Jewish communities in Greater Manchester and Merseyside is hugely appreciated. The manner in which our concerns have been taken on board and immediately actioned will be of great comfort to the community.”
ANDY BURNHAM (METRO MAYOR OF GREATER MANCHESTER) AND STEVE ROTHERAM (METRO MAYOR OF LIVERPOOL CITY REGION
“Thank you to Marc and the JLC for ensuring that we are kept up to date on issues that are affecting the Jewish communities in Greater Manchester and Merseyside. We have always enjoyed engaging with the Jewish community and have seen first-hand the outstanding work undertaken by charities across both regions. We would like to thank the JLC and all of our local communities on their outstanding efforts across multiple sectors to ensure that people in need receive the necessary care and support. We have heard the concerns raised by the JLC and commit to raising them at the appropriate levels of government.”
A group of major philanthropists and family foundations have partnered with the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) to launch an initiative targeting £3m as urgently needed support for Jewish social care charities - with half of that sum already committed.
This joint work will enable organisations to sustain their direct care services, which provide essential support for over 10,000 people across our community including cancer patients; children with life-limiting illnesses; vulnerable children; people with physical and learning disabilities; young people with significant emotional needs; victims of domestic abuse; and adults experiencing mental health problems.
The demand for charities’ services has never been greater and the pandemic’s financial fallout has caused the loss of millions from charities at a time when they need more resources than ever before. Indeed, the JLC surveyed 31 charities including nine social care providers, of which eight project lost income this year totalling £5m; 4 have reduced staff; 8 have or expect an increase in demand for services; and 7 are facing cash flow disruption. In partnership with the JLC, major funders will work together to asses and respond to these pressing needs.
The JLC is aiming to raise at least £3m for this communal priority with half of that figure already pledged. It is expected that substantial further resources will be available through this collaboration to strengthen vital communal services caring for some of the most vulnerable groups affected by COVID-19.
A group led by JLC Chair Jonathan Goldstein will be comprised of Baroness Ros Altmann CBE, Sir Mick Davis, Robert Gibber, Henry Grunwald OBE QC, Dame Gail Ronson and Hilda Worth will work together to analyse the needs and allocate support. This will be based on a robust and evidence-based application process, working to a series of comprehensive criteria, to ensure the funds go where they are most needed. This group will be supported by financial professionals.
This initiative comprises one facet of the JLC’s broad range of work to support the community through this crisis, which also included the establishment of the Emergency Community Fund in partnership with Work Avenue for families whose financial situation has been impacted by COVID-19. The JLC and many of these philanthropists and foundations have also supported the Jewish Homes Emergency Appeal.
Commenting on the need for collective responsibility and collaborative action, Jonathan Goldstein, JLC Chair said: “At its heart, the JLC drives greater cooperation across the Jewish charitable sector. Our entire community recognises that now is the time to join forces and help one another through this crisis. I am hugely grateful that many of our community’s most generous supporters have joined the JLC in this collaborative spirit to deliver immediate and substantial support to our social care sector.”
Baroness Ros Altmann CBE said: “Our community, our country, indeed the entire world has not faced such a public health and economic crisis in any of our lifetimes. Extraordinary circumstances require creative and flexible responses. The Government has stepped in throughout many parts of the economy and health sector, yet gaps remain, and many vulnerable people still rely on our social care charities. With charities facing very difficult circumstances for raising funds, this wonderful JLC initiative aims to help the front-line services who care for some of the most vulnerable in society”.
We at the JLC are hugely grateful to be able to announce the launch of a fund in partnership with Work Avenue to support those across the community whose earnings have been directly affected by COVID-19. The fund specifically assists those who are ineligible for Government support or who face delays accessing Government funds. This is launching with almost £300,000 and a commitment of additional funds if needed.
So many people, communities and organisations are performing thousands of acts of kindness every day, often in the most difficult of circumstances. Keeping people connected and cared for is a pressing need and a precious responsibility to fulfil. There are also many people facing difficult and uncertain financial situations.
Throughout the response to the pandemic the community has been working hard and working together to provide assistance and advice in these uncertain times. As a coalition of the largest Jewish charities in the UK with regional managers working alongside the representative councils in Leeds, Manchester and Scotland, and divisions responsible for schools, leadership and youth provision, the JLC has been well placed to connect, coordinate and add capacity to efforts across many sectors and parts of the UK.
Work Avenue, the community's leading employment and business charity, has the experience and expertise to administer this fund open to everyone in the community whose employment or earnings have been directly affected by COVID-19.
This fund has been made possible by the swift and hugely generous response of these first contributors: The Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust, The Gerald and Gail Ronson Family Foundation, The Max Barney Foundation, The Wohl Legacy, Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe, Genesis Philanthropy Group, The Bloom Foundation, The Goldstein Family and Investream Charitable Trust.
For more information and to apply please visit the Work Avenue website here. There are also further details on eligibility and how the fund will work in answers to these frequently asked questions [FAQs] .
We hope the JLC’s ongoing contribution to a collective and coordinated response can assist all our efforts to protect and provide for everyone in our community.
Jonathan Goldstein, Chair of the JLC, said:
"The world as we know it has changed. What has not changed are the acts of chesed that we so often see amongst our wonderful community. Small acts of kindness, often between strangers, have transformational power. Whether it being phoning someone just to check in, helping with shopping or countless other examples. In a time of great uncertainty and discomfort, I am proud the JLC is coordinating and contributing to the many ways our community is striving to alleviate some of the challenges all across our community are facing."
Mark Morris, Chair of Work Avenue and Trustee of JLC said:
"Through no fault of their own many people are facing financial difficulties during this crisis. Whilst the Government has announced measures and packages of support, some will fall through the gaps or face delays in accessing those funds. I am proud that Work Avenue is working with the JLC to provide immediate assistance so that these individuals and their families can cover essential expenses in the coming months."
David Davidi-Brown, JLC Director of Community Strategy, said:
"The cooperation and collective responsibility within communities and across our communal leadership is a much needed uplifting response to this terrible virus - and it is ensuring we can deliver quicker and increased support. We have seen this with the Jewish Homes Emergency Appeal, in our ongoing work to support the wider Jewish Social Care sector continue delivering vital services, and with this fund coming together to offer immediate assistance to families."
Debbie Sheldon, CEO of Work Avenue, said:
"My team have been working tirelessly to ensure that immediately after Pesach this fund is open to everyone within the community. Our staff and volunteers have the compassion, expertise and experience to support people and review financial applications sensitively, confidentially and swiftly to get funds to those who need them most. Beyond this initial period of immediate assistance, Work Avenue is here to support people restart and grow their businesses or re-enter employment."
Before anything else, I hope you, your families and your loved ones are all healthy and safe.
These last weeks have been terribly challenging. The entire world is confronting an illness that strikes indiscriminately. While all our lives have been turned upside down by this virus, many across this country and within our community have been taken ill. To them, I wish refuah shlemah. To anyone who has lost a loved one, I wish you a long life and no further sorrow. Let us hope the whole world is free from this wicked disease soon.
Many of you will know that my family recently got up from shiva. Having just lost my father, I feel the pain that so many of you are experiencing right now and would like to thank so many of you who have sent us good wishes. It is so difficult to be unable to observe the normal prayer traditions without a minyan, let alone give my father the funeral and shiva we would have wanted. This has made the difficulty of this period only greater. My heart goes out to anyone in any community who is experiencing the same situation. The picture of the young 13-year-old boy, Ismail Abdulwahab, being buried alone with no family present was heart breaking. As I write to you, our prime minister is still in intensive care and our thoughts and prayers are with him for a full and speedy recovery. This virus is indiscriminate and ruthless and we must all adhere to the government’s restrictions. I urge you all to stay at home for he or she who has saved one life, our sages teach us, has saved the world entire.
Our current situation is putting significant pressure on many of our organisations and we should all be proud of the way they are reacting. In particular, I want to express my admiration to the staff who often go well beyond the call of duty to ensure the needs of our community are met. Many of you will have seen the Emergency Joint Campaign of Jewish Care, Nightingale Hammerson and the Fed in Manchester, supported by the JLC, to raise funds to meet their immediate needs. Our communal organisations need our help like never before.
A word of support as well for our synagogue bodies who, across the spectrum, have been facing unprecedented challenges. From closing synagogues, to organising online activities and education for members to, unfortunately, significantly higher burial requirements, the world as we know it has changed.
What has not changed are the acts of chesed that we so often see amongst our wonderful community. Last week, my wife’s great uncle passed away in a Jewish Care home. Unfortunately, his son could not be with him at the end as the home is locked down and he, for his own medical reasons, has had to stay in isolation. The feeling of being apart from his father at that moment was extremely distressing. On the day his father died, he received a note from the director of the home who told him that the staff had been sitting with his father throughout his final moments, telling him how much his son loved him. That single act of kindness brought great comfort at a moment of unimaginable pain and showed, once more, how good deeds, however small, can change one’s life or outlook.
If any good is to come out of this period of our lives, it should be the message that small acts of kindness, often between strangers, have transformational power. Whether it being phoning someone just to check in, helping with shopping or countless other examples. In a time of great uncertainty and discomfort, let us focus on our capacity to make a difference in the world, in the life of even one individual in the smallest way.
In this fight, there is no division between peoples. We are all waging the same battle and every good deed only brings us closer together.
I am writing this on the eve of Pesach. Tonight, everywhere around the world, we will sit with our families, where possible, and recount the story of the exodus from Egypt. Just as we do every year, we will ask: “why is this night is different to all other nights?” Sadly, for many of us this year's Pesach will be like no other in living memory. Families are split, parents and grandparents are on their own and, as a result, the way in which we celebrate this Pesach will be with a heavier heart, yearning to be together with all our loved ones.
Pesach is also known as Zman Cherutenu, the time of our freedom. We pray that next year we will be truly free. As we sit around our tables this year, let us pray that our captivity from this virus comes to a conclusion very soon.
To next year in Jerusalem. Whether in body or in spirit, let us hope and pray that next year we will be free to celebrate Pesach in the manner we have enjoyed for so many years, reunited with our loved ones.
Today, new Labour Leader Keir Starmer and Deputy Leader Angela Rayner held a video meeting with representatives of the UK Jewish community from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Community Security Trust and the Jewish Labour Movement.
After the meeting, new Labour Leader Keir Starmer said:
“I want to thank the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Community Security Trust and the Jewish Labour Movement for taking this opportunity to meet me, not least so close to Passover. It was very important to me to seek to address the disgrace of antisemitism in our party as soon as possible.
“Today, I repeated once again the apology I made as soon as I was elected leader.
“Over the last few years, we have failed the Jewish community on antisemitism. Labour is a proudly anti-racist party and, going forward, it will not be enough to ‘pass the test’ on antisemitism. We need to set new standards for best practice.
“At today’s meeting, I committed to begin work on setting up an independent complaints process, cooperating fully with the EHRC’s inquiry and asking for a report on all outstanding cases to be on my desk at the week. I also discussed with Jewish Labour Movement my ambition to roll out training of all Labour Party staff in as soon as practically possible.”
On behalf of the communal delegation, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl, JLC Chair Jonathan Goldstein, CST Chair Gerald Ronson and JLM Chair Mike Katz, said:
“While we would have fully understood the need to focus entirely on Coronavirus at this time, Keir Starmer has already achieved in four days more than his predecessor in four years in addressing antisemitism within the Labour Party.
“As we discussed with Keir and Angela, we want to have a normal relationship with Labour whereby we can discuss the full range of issues affecting our community, from religious freedom to Israel, from Jewish schools to poverty, from refugees to the environment – and not just antisemitism.”
“This has certainly been a good start. If the new Labour leadership continues in this way, we can work together to make the changes that will make Labour a proudly anti-racist party once again.”
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."