When I took over as Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) from my predecessor, Jeremy Newmark, in 2013, the organisation began a new chapter. However, over the last week, the JLC has come under significant scrutiny concerning Jeremy’s alleged conduct as chief executive, the lead up to his exit, and the way in which it was managed.
Today, it is an undisputed fact that the JLC is a very different organisation, operationally and otherwise, to the one that I took control of in 2013. It not only has a new chief executive, but also a new chairman, Jonathan Goldstein – a former lawyer like myself – seven new trustees, and a new strategic direction.
Great strides have been made since 2013 – most of them under the inspired chairmanship of Sir Mick Davis – to implement stringent processes and procedures in order to achieve effective and robust transparency and accountability across everything the JLC does. I am indebted to the unstinting support Sir Mick offered throughout this process.
As the umbrella body of 33 constituent members – all of whom are vital to our community, we recognise that we must do everything necessary to ensure that the JLC retains the confidence of its members and of the community. To do that, we must aspire to and uphold the highest standards.
We are taking decisive action to address the concerns which have been raised. We have commissioned an independent law firm and are appointing an independent accountancy firm to advise the JLC. We want to ensure no stone is left unturned in understanding past events and that there is as much visibility as possible. As part of that process, Jeremy Newmark will be invited to participate.
With every crisis comes danger and opportunity.
The danger we face is losing sight of the bigger picture – the fundamentally important role that the JLC plays for British Jews and, specifically, its constituent members, all of whom are integral to our community; or that we allow allegations to fuel even greater hatred and antisemitic rhetoric, as evidenced by activity on social media over the last week.
The JLC is committed to providing strong leadership on behalf of community institutions, identifying and facilitating comprehensive solutions for communal challenges and gaps in provision, and coordinating community activity. We have been pursuing this mission by being representative of our members and collaborative, coordinated and considered in our approach.
The opportunity is to ensure we use this experience, however painful it is now, to reassure everyone that the JLC is fully committed to being transparent, accountable, and a home of best practice.
In ‘business as usual’, our day-to-day focus must be continuing to provide the cohesive, thoughtful and forceful voice for our community. We continue to work hard to develop and inspire community leaders, safeguard the long-term financial sustainability of services provided to the Jewish community, with a particular focus on elderly care, to work together to improve mental health provision for our young people, and to support Jewish schools in delivering quality education to our children.
The next few weeks will not be easy but I ask for your patience. We will work with our independent advisers, review the findings, and implement all necessary steps in order to get this right, reporting to our stakeholders and the community – we owe you nothing less.
This article first appeared in the Jewish Chronicle (online) on 14 February 2018.