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JLC Announces Synagogue Vitality Project Findings

JLC announces Synagogue Vitality Project findings

Concluding a two-year study into synagogue vitality, the Jewish Leadership Council released an in-depth report describing the current landscape and detailing the benefits of vitality, how it is created, and how it may be furthered throughout Britain. The full report can be seen here.

The research report, co-authored by Prof. Steven M. Cohen and Michelle Terret, concluded that “vital congregations project an ethos that is welcoming … as well as upbeat and positive. They are family-like … and they have a penchant for action.” Relying upon a national survey of synagogue leaders, intensive observation of six select congregations, and a survey of their members, the report found that vitality plays out in four key domains: prayer, chesed ‘human kindness’, adult programming and youth.

Vitality is important in part because vital congregations develop their congregants as people and as Jews, creating feelings of belonging and communities of meaning and purpose. This requires reflective leadership that gives studious attention to execution.

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The JLC's Response To Jeremy Corbyn's Condemnation of Sir Gerald Kaufman's Comments

The fact that Mr Corbyn has distanced himself from Sir Gerald’s despicable comments is in itself a welcome intervention. We await a response from the Chief Whip as to whether any further disciplinary action will be taken and, of course, if Sir Gerald will apologise.

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JLC CEO Calls for apology from Sir Gerald Kaufman

Simon Johnson, the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council called today for an apology from Sir Gerald Kaufman for disgraceful remarks made at a meeting of the Palestine Return Centre.

“For the Father of the House to make comments that refer to all the old-fashioned anti-Semitic tropes is nothing short of disgraceful,” he said. “I am personally offended that an MP representing the city where I was born should articulate such views as this. Sir Gerald owes the Jewish community a significant apology.”

Asked whether the Commons or the Labour Party should take action against Kaufman, Johnson said: “He holds the title ‘Father of the House,’ therefore this should be a matter for the whole House.”

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JLC reacts to calls for an Academic Boycott of Israel in the Guardian

Reacting to the advert in the Guardian Newspaper on 27th October, in which UK academics have called for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, Simon Johnson the CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council said:

“It is ironic that the signatories in the Guardian have ignored Universities UK which earlier this year invested time and effort to oppose academic boycotts. They have also ignored their colleagues from over 30 universities who have actively engaged, through BIRAX, in scientific cooperation with researchers in Israeli institutions as well as the calls of the 150 writers, artists and musicians who last week promoted the benefits of continuing dialogue with Israel.

“It seems that once again those who wish to improve the situation in the Middle East have a chosen a divisive and discriminatory path rather than creating inclusive academic debate which will benefit society as a whole.

“If these academics honestly believe that a boycott of Israeli institutions is a constructive approach, then we are sure that further boycotts against the many other countries who - unlike Israel - are not democratic, oppress dissent and do not abide by the rule of law, are just around the corner. The double standards here are evident and cannot lead to any real progress on the issue.”

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Foreign Office letter in response to JLC action on UNESCO

Prior to  UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) passing a resolution on Wednesday, listing the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem as Muslim sites, the JLC wrote to the Foreign Office and other high level officials to ensure they are aware of the Jewish community’s position.

Following this communication, the JLC is pleased to have received a response from the Foreign Office, which can be seen here.

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JLC Response to and action taken on UNESCO resolution that would declare the Western Wall a Muslim holy site

“The motion submitted to UNESCO seeks to delegitimise Israel by denying one of the central pillars of its character, its religious connection to the land.

“Those who have put forward the motion seek to be deliberately inflammatory at a time of considerable instability in the region. For the Western Wall to be named as part of the al-Aqsa Mosque as proposed in this motion, would be an affront to Jews everywhere, not just in Israel. Coming five years after UNESCO passed a motion declaring the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb to be ‘Palestinian’, it is clear that the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and their supporters are using the world’s major cultural forum as a setting to delegitimise Israel rather than foster cooperation on cultural maintenance.

“The JLC has written to the Foreign Office and other high level officials to ensure they are aware of the Jewish community’s position. We call on all those nations sponsoring this proposal, and those encouraging them to do so, to change course and curtail the current wave of violence, not to push forward resolutions that will escalate an already volatile situation.”

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Sir Mick Davis Comments on the Recent Spate Of Violence in Israel

"The violence and bloodshed on the streets of Israel effects the entire UK Jewish community. Our hearts go out to the innocent victims and our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those who have suffered. We call on leaders to lead and take bold and courageous steps to dampen tension, restore calm and promote progress towards peace. Now is the time in particular for President Abbas to stand up and condemn this violence and take proper steps to bring it to an end."

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Professor Gabriel Brahm discusses why he participated in the Exeter University Conference and what impact it had.

Professor Gabriel Brahm, one of two academics invited by the JLC to participate in the academic conference at Exeter University on Settler Colonialism in Palestine, has written the following comment which has appeared on line at thejc.com and at The Times of Israel. We urge all those who were critical of the JLC's announcement with Exeter University to read Prof Brahm's account.  It sets out his motives for agreeing to attend, his experiences and what he believes it achieved. Prof Brahm is a passionate Zionist academic and his thoughts are to be respected.  We are grateful to Professor Brahm and Professor Alan Johnson for contributing to the conference.

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The JLC and the University of Exeter Announce a New Approach To Debating the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), Board of Deputies, Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and The University of Exeter can today announce a new approach to the debating of issues on campus pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, whilst upholding the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech.

In the lead-up to the academic conference on 'Settler Colonialism in Palestine & Workshop on the Naqab Bedouin' the University and the JLC have worked together to adopt a plan which, it is hoped, will form the basis of an approach for future similar conferences.

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Chair's Message: September 2015

Over the last month there has been one story which has dominated the news agenda. We have all witnessed on our television screens the harrowing stories of refugees who have risked everything to start a new life in Europe. The continent is now facing the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War. This year alone, over 380,000 people have reached Europe, with more than half of those coming from Syria. Angela Merkel has already pledged to accept the 800,000 refugees expected in Germany by the end of the year. Britain also has a duty to help those fleeing persecution. This issue will test the character of the nation’s moral fabric. Are we a compassionate nation or do we turn a blind eye to those who need our support? At the start of the Second World War, Britain accepted 10,000 Jewish children via the Kindertransport. This act of generosity saved these children’s lives. They grew up loving Britain and made amazing contributions to British life. Britain must now demonstrate the same compassion as it did in 1938. But we also have an obligation as Jews to respond to this crisis. The many if not most of British Jews are descendants of refugees. Rabbi Lord Sacks reminds us in a recent piece in the Guardian that “the Bible commands us to ‘Love the stranger because you were once strangers,’” and we must now put these words into action. Sacks eloquently sums up this argument by concluding that “wars that cannot be won by weapons can sometimes be won by the sheer power of acts of humanitarian generosity to inspire the young to choose the way of peace instead of holy war.” We must now harness those words and help those who need our support. I am pleased that World Jewish Relief will help coordinate the responses of our community. I also urge those with the financial capacity to contribute generously to the WJR appeal.

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