One Newspaper. Four Days. Two opinions.
The Guardian newspaper, at the end of October, unwittingly presented two sides of a debate current in civil society regarding the rights and the wrongs of boycotts of Israel. And it revealed the misplaced obsession of those who call for boycotts of Israel.
First, there was the hugely significant letter, signed by over 150 influential figures in the arts and cultural worlds, organised by a new group called “Culture for Co-existence”, stating their opposition to boycotts of Israel. They described boycotts as “divisive and discriminatory” and advocated that culture should be used to break down divisions and promote peace and co-existence. With stellar figures such as Hilary Mantel, Melvin Bragg, JK Rowling, Niall Ferguson, Zoe Wannamaker amongst an illustrious group of signatories, one would have hoped that this message would begin to resonate.
But no. Four days later, the BDS obsessives were back in The Guardian peddling their message. This time, an advert was paid for by over 350 academics calling for an academic boycott of Israeli educational institutions. Many of the signatories were the same old “usual suspects”, who had made this call before, supplemented by an assortment of largely anonymous academics.
These two interventions in The Guardian rather framed the debate. A message of peace and co-existence advocated from within the cultural world and a message of division and boycott from a self selecting group of academics.
Chanukah is the eight-day festival of light that begins on the eve of the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, celebrating the triumph of light over darkness and of spirituality over superficiality.
Chanukah in the Square is the biggest annual Chanukah celebration in the UK. Organised by the Jewish Leadership Council and Chabad, with the London Jewish Forum and supported by the Mayor of London, it is a key event in both the Mayoral and communal calendars. In this regard, the event is a celebration of the great collaborative work these organisations do throughout the year.
This year, Chanukah in the Square is being celebrated on Thursday 10th December 2015 and we are hoping for a record breaking crowd, beating last year’s record of 5000 people.
Set in the landmark location of Trafalgar Square, Europe’s largest Menorah will stand bright for the entire 8 day duration of Chanukah, reminding Londoners of the miracle of the Festival of Light and the religious and cultural contribution the Jewish people make to this diverse city.
As well as witnessing London’s brightest Menorah lighting, lit by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, you can watch a live performance by the fantastic Maccabeats, an A cappella group famous for creating upbeat, current Jewish music with one of their videos being viewed over 10 million times and counting!
Performing alongside the Maccabeats will be the energetic Neshama band, Akiva School Choir and JCOSS, as well as the colourful, ever spinning Dreidelman. This mascot will serve as another symbolic reminder that ‘a great miracle happened’ in the story of Chanukah, even in the midst of our fun and games in Central London.
In addition to these fantastic acts, attendees will also be treated to 6,000 free doughnuts, a traditional food eaten during Chanukah (the story of an oil-based miracle—explaining why we eat oily foods to commemorate Chanukah) Kosher hot food will also be served by Reich throughout the evening!
We hope to see familiar and new faces alike, taking advantage of this wonderful celebration for one of the major festivals of the Jewish calendar. The event is cross-denominational and open to the wider public for all to enjoy.
Twitter: @ChanukahSq #CHANUKAHSQ15
Click here to view our Facebook page and get up to the minute information about the event of the year!
Limmud is one of the great Anglo-Jewish creations. It provides a phenomenal opportunity to learn about different aspects of Jewish life, culture and thought. Its success at bringing people together and creating a vibrant atmosphere for growth and the free exchange of ideas has inspired Limmud ‘franchises’ across the diaspora. Limmud is a wonderful example of the successful embodiment of one of the JLC’s core objectives: including more Jews in communal life for the betterment of the whole of British Jewry.
This year the JLC is proud to be contributing two panel discussions to Limmud, with the hopes of both raising issues of importance to Jewish life and also helping to illustrate to the community what the JLC and our member organisations are seeking to achieve.
Last month I had the privilege of taking over as the Director of the London Jewish Forum, and it has been a very busy four weeks.
Since 2002, the LJF has existed to give Jewish communities a voice within the corridors of power in London, striving to engage politicians in Jewish issues and to act upon the many pressing issues facing Jewish Londoners.
So it seems timely that just seven months away from elections for the Mayor of London and the Greater London Assembly, that LJF’s primary work for the foreseeable future is focused on getting Jewish issues to the top of the agenda in City Hall.
For the past four weeks, LJF has been working hard to build upon the relationships we have previously established with political parties contesting the London elections, and over the coming weeks we will be starting to build a Jewish manifesto for London in partnership with Jewish organisations all over London.
This manifesto will feature key pledges that we will be asking politicians across the political spectrum to sign up to – guarantees to the Jewish community that issues such as tackling anti-Semitism and creating better social care facilities in London remain at the forefront of the plan for a better London.
On top of that, in partnership with the JLC and Chabad, the LJF has been busily helping to ensure that this year’s Chanukah in the Square is the biggest one London has ever seen – and we’re so pleased that the YouTube sensations, The Maccabeats, will be joining us at Europe’s biggest Menorah lighting to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness.
If you would like any further information about any of our work, or have any suggestions for the LJF, please do not hesitate to get in contact by emailing [email protected]
Coinciding with the GAMECHANGERS celebration, Nicky Goldman, Lead Executive Director wrote the following for the Jewish News which can be seen here.
American President John Quincy Adams once said: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” For generations within our community we have just expected our leaders to have these virtues, without specific training, support or guidance beyond youth organisations or the Adam Science Leadership Programme.
But the nature of leadership is changing. Globally, companies are moving to more inclusive and less hierarchical models to empow0er their teams. There is also a huge amount of investment involved; in 2012 some $14billion was spent on leadership development in the USA alone. We can no longer expect individuals to simply pick up skills learnt in the work-place or as young people and apply them to diverse and growing Jewish communities.
In the present day, our leaders of Jewish organisations also face even more varied and extreme challenges than at any point in our recent history. There are external factors such as the dramatic rise in anti-Semitism, increasing exposure on social and mainstream media, to anti-Israel campaigns and the reduction in funding from central and local government, which threaten the future of many of our vibrant organisations.
At the end of November PaJeS convened a 24-hour residential seminar for Headteachers, sponsored by UJIA Ashdown. 28 Heads attended - a remarkable number considering how busy they are. They represented a wide spectrum of schools, both secondary and primary, and came from different strands of the community. The aim of the seminar was to give Heads time away from the multitude of urgent issues on their desks and instead to reflect on the important challenges facing schools in the future and look at how we could address these through collaboration and partnerships. It was also intended as an opportunity to meet other Heads in a relaxed setting.
James Libson, JLC Trustee and Chairman of World Jewish Relief, discusses his trip to Idomeni, Greece with Chief Rabbi Mirvis. This article was first published on the World Jewish Relief website at https://www.worldjewishrelief.org/news/my-journey-with-the-chief-rabbi-to-a-refugee-camp/
In November, I travelled to Greece with Chief Rabbi Mirvis. Our delegation visited the transit camp in Idomeni, where up to 10,000 refugees are processed every day, as they journey through Europe.
There I saw a mobile medical unit - funded by World Jewish Relief’s Refugee Crisis Appeal - literally saving people’s lives.
London Mayor Boris Johnson was on fine form at Norwood’s Annual Dinner, which attracted a record-breaking 1,350 guests. The glittering event at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel raised £3.4m for Norwood, the UK’s largest Jewish charity supporting vulnerable children and their families, children and young people with special educational needs, and adults with learning disabilities.
The charity took the opportunity to announce the appointment of their new Joint Presidents, Lord and Lady Mendelsohn. Lord Jonathan Mendelsohn was created a Life Peer as Baron Mendelsohn of Finchley in the London Borough of Barnet in 2013. Lady Nicola Mendelsohn CBE is Facebook's Vice-President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
JLGB have recently unveiled a new campaign ‘Do Your Bit’ to address a national shortage of adult volunteers who can commit to giving a few hours one night a week to local JLGB groups across the Jewish community.
The recruitment drive is backed by the Cabinet Office and Youth United whose support has enabled 32 volunteers from JLGB groups around the country to play a starring role in a campaign leaflet. Four of these have been picked out as case studies, each explaining what JLGB means to them and what they have gained through their association with the youth organisation, which this year celebrates its 120th anniversary.
JLGB Chief Executive Neil Martin explains:
We need more adults to help shape the next generation. The biggest gap is among the 21 to 45-year-old age groups, where people naturally become more focused on their careers and families. In a world perhaps far more complex than ever before, we must equip young people with vital qualities and skills, such as confidence, determination, problem-solving, resilience and grit, to stand the best possible chance to succeed in whatever they choose to do. JLGB is not just a club for having fun – it is an investment in the future.
Volunteering as an adult leader gives you back more than you’d expect. Volunteers can gain qualifications and transferable skills that you can use to further your own career: skills like management training, team motivation and communication techniques.
No previous involvement with JLGB is needed to become an adult volunteer, but is subject to checks and references. So if you have skills to help provide a positive future for young Jewish people – JLGB will provide everything else new volunteers will need. Volunteers will be placed where they can make the biggest difference and greatest impact and can do their bit by helping out at one of the many local weekly groups across the whole of the UK, or even help open a new group in your area.
To find out more, please call the Do Your Bit campaign hotline on 0300 123 2363 or email [email protected]
For full information and to register your interest, see www.jlgb.org/doyourbit
Follow JLGB on Twitter @JLGBHQ and on Facebook. The campaign hash tag is #DoYourBit
The University of Exeter and the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) will co-host a special event to debate how Israel is represented in academic discussions across the UK.
The event, will take place at the University’s St Luke’s Campus on February 1, 2016. Entitled ‘The treatment of Israel in academic discourse at UK Universities’, the debate will feature academics, students from the University, and representatives from the Jewish community deliberating both sides of the major topic.
The event has been organised to debate issues pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, upholding the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech.
Working with the JLC in the lead-up to the recent academic conference on ‘Settler Colonialism in Palestine & Workshop on the Naqab Bedouin’, the University announced it would hold a supplementary event to provide an opportunity for further debate.
The event will be chaired by Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Exeter, and hosted by Professor Janice Kay, Exeter Provost.