Chanukah in the Square 2019


More than 4500 people joined London’s Jewish community in celebrating the first night of Chanukah in London’s Trafalgar Square on Sunday 22nd December 2019. Speakers included the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the incredibly funny comedian Rachel Creeger (who hosted the event), Marc Levene and the Kedma band, the amazing Mathilda Marks-Kennedy school choir and everyone’s favourite…. Dreidelman.

Chanukah in the Square is an opportunity for the Londoners to come together in unity at the end of the year. We are encouraged that our friends of all faiths and backgrounds joined us in celebrating the first night of Chanukah which commemorates the triumph of light over darkness.

Throughout the afternoon, there was several free family themed stalls and thousands of free doughnuts handed out by volunteers.

This event has become a staple in the communal and London calendar as the giant menorah stands tall in the heart of the city with the sounds of the blessings and live music ringing loudly through Trafalgar Square. 

Chanukah in the Square is jointly presented by the Jewish Leadership Council, Chabad Lubavitch UK, London Jewish Forum, Mark Prudkin Fund For Culture And Art and supported by the CST and Mayor of London.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said:

“Jewish Londoners have made an enormous contribution to life in our city for centuries which is why I am so proud to join members of the Jewish community and all Londoners, to light the menorah and celebrate Chanukah in Trafalgar Square.” 

Jonathan Goldstein, Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council said:

“We were delighted to welcome our community back to Trafalgar Square after a challenging year and greatly enjoyed sharing our festival of light with the Mayor of London and the rest of our great city.”

Vladimir Prudkin, co-founder of Mark Prudkin Fund For Culture And Art who sponsored the event:

"Our fund was named after the famous Jewish Soviet actor Mark Prudkin, one of the brightest Jewish actors that formed the most important Hebrew language theater, the Habima. Much like Moshe, who didn't get to enter Eretz-Yisrael, Mark Prudkin could not join his peers in Israel. The Mark Prudkin Fund is aimed at supporting and promoting Israeli art all over the world, and we continue to carry on with the mission of the great actor. This mission strived for over 100 years since Habima’s establishment. Today, at Trafalgar Square, we celebrate the unity of the Jewish people in the Free World."

View photos here and here.


Jewish Leadership Council Releases Statutory Accounts for 2018

The Jewish Leadership Council has released its Statutory Accounts for the year ended December 2018.

The JLC has regained its financial footing and finished the year with an overall surplus across the organisation and its divisions. The overall surplus for 2018 is £164,753.

2018 was a year that was dominated by two high profile events. We celebrated Israel’s 70th birthday at the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales and the year marked the beginning of an unplanned campaign to eradicate rising levels of anti-Jewish racism within the Labour Party, starting with the Enough is Enough protest in Parliament Square.

The JLC also acknowledge that 2018 was a tough year as, with the agreement of the Charity Commission, the JLC launched the Independent Review into Historical Allegations. The report of the Independent Review was published by the JLC at the end of January 2019. The report made a series of recommendations that the JLC has been implementing throughout 2019. The costs of the Independent Review created a significant challenge, and the year end performance is very pleasing in the circumstances.

The Charity Commission also issued an action plan which has been implemented. The Charity Commission have now closed the case file.

The JLC has continued to make progress on two major initiatives launched by our Chair Jonathan Goldstein.

The Elderly Care Commission led by Sir Howard Bernstein and comprising the Chairs of the major community elderly care providers and experts from within the community, assisted on a pro bono basis by McKinsey & Co made significant progress in analysing the needs and challenges of the elderly care sector in the future.

The Youth Mental Health Taskforce that was established in 2017 has now successfully initiated a three year pilot project in five Jewish schools to improve the wellbeing of our young people. The pilot involves placing wellbeing practitioners in these schools and empowering those practitioners with support, access to programme materials, a programme of activities, signposting and professional support.

Jonathan Goldstein, Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, said:

“The JLC has continued to invest heavily in long term strategic priorities of our community, including in social care, political activity and defending our community against rising anti-Jewish racism within the Labour Party. I am delighted that we have increased the breadth of our donor base since becoming Chair and proud of all that we have achieved to date. We have been able to do so thanks to our members, donors and the dedication of the staff team, led by our Chief Executive Simon Johnson. The JLC, along with PaJeS and Lead continue to provide unique and essential support for our whole community.”


Independent Mayoral Candidate Rory Stewart visits JLC members

(l-r: Jami Chief Executive Laurie Rackind, JLC Head of Communications Adam Langleben, Jami Chair Adam Dawson, JLC Director of Policy & Public Affairs Claudia Mendoza and Rory Stewart)

Independent Mayoral Candidate and former International Development Secretary Rory Stewart today visited Golders Green and JW3 to listen to concerns of Jewish Londoners.

The pre-planned engagement that the JLC had arranged prior to his Mayoral announcement, introduced Rory to JLC member organisations including London Jewish Forum and Jami at their Golders Green Headrooom Cafe and Mitzvah Day, the Union of Jewish Students and JW3 at the Swiss Cottage Centre.

Rory also stopped passers by on Golders Green Road and in JW3 in his now trademark fashion to engage potential voters on issues they care about.

At the Headroom Cafe, Rory spoke with Jami Chief Executive Laurie Rifkind and Chair Adam Dawson about mental health issues facing the Jewish community. He also spoke with Andrew Gilbert of the London Jewish Forum about the community's priorities for London.

At JW3 Mr Stewart met with UJS President Esther Offenberg and sabbatical officer Bradley Langer. He also met with Mitzvah Day Chief Executive Georgina Bye and JW3 CEO Raymond Simonson.

The JLC will has and will continue to engage with all Mayoral candidates and political party's in the run up to the 2020 London Elections.


Foreign Secretary discusses antisemitism, Israel and Brexit with Jewish leaders

The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council today held a meeting with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, to discuss topics including tackling antisemitism, promoting peace and security for Israel and the wider Middle East, safeguarding Jewish interests in the context of Brexit, protecting religious freedoms and ensuring that the right lessons are learnt from the Holocaust.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said:

“It was a pleasure to host members of the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council at the Foreign Office. Now, more than ever, we must do more to fight the scourge of antisemitism and all racism. I look forward to continuing to work closely together in the future.”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl and Jewish Leadership Council Vice Chair Debra Fox said:

“We were very pleased to meet the new Foreign Secretary and congratulate him on his appointment to this crucial role. We very much look forward to working with him on our shared objectives of tackling antisemitism; promoting peace and security for Israel and her neighbours; and ensuring that Israel gets a fair hearing in international institutions.”


Jewish Leadership Council hosts Annual Peers Tea

On Wednesday 4th September 2019, the Jewish Leadership Council sponsored a Rosh Hashanah Tea for over 40 Jewish Peers and friends in the House of Lords, co-hosted by Lord Palmer OBE, Baroness Neuberger DBE, Lord Mendelsohn and Baroness Altmann CBE.

Peers heard speeches from JLC Vice Presidents Baroness Altmann and Baroness Julia Neuberger as well as the Israeli Ambassador, Mark Regev. A d’var Torah given by Rabbi Jeremy Gordon of New London Synagogue.

Overlooking the River Thames, and enjoying some honey cake was the perfect way to welcome the Jewish New Year whilst thanking members of the Upper House in between key votes on Brexit.

Jewish Leadership Council Chair, Jonathan Goldstein said:

“We were delighted to welcome so many friends in the House of Lords to thank them for their ongoing work on behalf of our Jewish communities.”


“I will stand up to the threat of antisemitism” says new Home Secretary Priti Patel following meeting with Jewish community leaders

Jewish community organisations today held a meeting with Home Secretary Priti Patel, organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, to discuss topics including tackling antisemitism, countering extremism and safeguarding Jewish interests in the context of Brexit.

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl led the delegation, which comprised colleagues from the Community Security Trust and the Jewish Leadership Council.

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Universities Minister Jo Johnson discusses antisemitism and religious freedoms with Jewish groups

Jewish community organisations this week held a meeting with Universities Minister Jo Johnson, arranged by the Board of Deputies, to discuss topics including antisemitism and freedom of speech, religious freedom issues and ways in which the new government will be able to support Jewish students and academics.

Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman led the delegation, which comprised colleagues from the Union of Jewish Students, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Community Security Trust, and University Jewish Chaplaincy.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said:

“I am pleased to have met with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and other members from Jewish representative groups today to discuss Jewish students and academics’ experience in higher education.

“I have listened to the concerns and challenges Jewish students face and I am clear that there is no place within higher education for any form of hatred or discrimination - including antisemitism. That is why the Government is working with the Office for Students and UUK to take action to ensure everyone can thrive at university.” 

Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman, UJS President Esther Offenberg, the JLC’s Claudia Mendoza, CST’s Jonny Newton and Jewish Chaplaincy representative Rabbi Michael Rosenfeld-Schueler said:

“The Jewish community is pleased to welcome Minister Jo Johnson back to the role of Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation.

“We would like to thank the Minister for meeting with us, and for the opportunity to discuss key areas of importance for Jewish students, academics, and the wider community.

“The Minister’s previous work in the role on the issues of antisemitism and freedom of speech on campus reassures us that under this government, Jewish life on campus will thrive in a safe and welcoming environment for all. We look forward to working with the Minister addressing our shared priorities.”


JLC Chair Writes to the Shadow Cabinet Ahead of Meeting on Antisemitism

Ahead of the Shadow Cabinet meeting on antisemitism (22/07/19), Jonathan Goldstein has written to all Shadow Cabinet Ministers.

You can read the letter here.


JLC Responds to the Appointment of Heather Mendick

In response to the Labour Party appointing Heather Mendick as a liaison to the Jewish community, JLC Chair Jonathan Goldstein said:

“It is beyond parody that the Labour Party has hired JVL’s Heather Mendick to attempt to build the relationship with the Jewish community.

“From her dismissal of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, to her support for Chris Williamson, to her accusation that antisemitism was being “weaponised against the Left”, makes her appointment pitiful.

“When we met with Jeremy Corbyn last year we made it perfectly clear what was needed to rebuild trust. He has proven that he is incapable of doing those things. This is a sinister move and we will not be engaging with Ms Mendick.”


Joint Statement from the Board of Deputies, CST and Jewish Leadership Council on Labour candidate for the Peterborough by-election

Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council and David Delew, Chief Executive of the Community Security Trust, said:

“The revelation that Labour’s Peterborough candidate Lisa Forbes liked a racist Facebook post accusing Theresa May of having a “Zionist Slave Masters agenda” as recently as April – and previously welcomed a post indulging the bizarre conspiracy theory that Mossad and the CIA are behind Daesh – brings in to question her suitability for public office.

Ms Forbes has now apologised, saying she had not seen these words, but this stretches the limits of credulity, especially given the high profile problems in Labour and the previous antisemitism scandals in Peterborough Labour circles, such as Alan Bull and last November’s resignation of two senior councillors, who said they had been pressured against when trying to complain about antisemitism.

Ms Forbes also says she will seek antisemitism training. This is somewhat ironic given her previous rejection of the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

We are fed up hearing that Labour opposes antisemitism while repeatedly hearing excuses that its members accidentally missed the racism that was staring them in the face.

Unless Labour disowns Lisa Forbes as a candidate, it will only confirm the Party’s shameful descent into the racist mess for which they are now being investigated by the EHRC.”