With two weeks to go before the close of nominations for the new Board of Deputies leadership, the Board has unveiled a list of candidates for the top three senior positions.
Treasurer Stuart MacDonald is the only deputy who is standing again, unopposed. Vice-presidents Sheila Gewolb and Marie Van der Zyl have both decided to run for president, to succeed Jonathan Arkush, with Ms Gewolb hedging her bets by declaring a bid for a vice-presidential position as well. The two women face a dark horse challenger for president — Baghdad-born Edwin Shuker, vice-chair of the board’s international division and a feisty campaigner for the rights of Jews from Arab lands.
There is a distinct right-wing bias among those bidding for one of the vice-presidential slots. They include Manchester lawyer Robert Festenstein, who last year controversially appeared in a video with the English Defence League’s Tommy Robinson. Mr Festenstein, after the video came to light, said: “I was interviewed by Mr Robinson in connection with a matter where I am instructed by a client who has a potential dispute with Sunderland City Council. Mr Robinson is not my client and I have no association with him.” The lawyer is a director of the Jewish Human Rights Watch group.
Vying with him are the JNF deputy Gary Mond; and Roslyn Pine, a deputy for North Salford Synagogue who has angrily challenged the left-wing Zionist group, Yachad. Israeli-born Tal Ofer, who represents Chigwell and Hainault Synagogue on the Board, ran last time for the v-p post but was heavily defeated. Tal sits on the Defence Division and the Board’s executive
But also in the race for vice-president is Amanda Bowman, who chairs the Board’s social action team and is its gender equality lead. She represents Hampstead Synagogue for the deputies.
Nominations for the next triennial — the posts are held for three years — close on April 26 and the elections take place on May 13. Hustings will be held in Manchester, London, and Glasgow in the first weeks of May and it is thought that separate hustings may be held by the Reform movement.
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