Before our official countdown, we profile the 20 communal superstars who just missed out. Written by Gabriel Pogrund.
Yonni AbramsonYonni Abramson
Yonni is a property entrepreneur and philanthropist who co-founded the London property agency TSP and was last year appointed fundraising Board Chair of Young Norwood (Norwood supports vulnerable children, families and people with learning disabilities). Through sporting endeavours, including the London and New York City marathons, he has personally raised more than £26,000 for charity. Many communal lay leaders in the welfare sector see him as the Steven Lewis [chairman of Jewish Care and a trustee of the Jewish Leadership Council] of his generation.
Anthony is UJIA’s director of informal education and Israel engagement. The Glaswegian is the pivotal figure inside the Jewish youth movement world, with a fine pedigree in informal Jewish education for young people. Before taking up his current role, he worked for Habonim Dror and was then education manager of JAMS (Jewish Activities in Mainstream Schools). Last summer, UJIA was the backbone of support for more than 1,200 British 16-year-olds on Israel tours through youth organisations. Anthony and his team worked 24/7 to ensure everyone had that life-changing experience even in the middle of the events of summer 2014.
Sophie is public and parliamentary affairs officer at the Board of Deputies. She co-ordinates the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews, founded in 2013, which engages Jewish and non-Jewish MPs on communal causes and concerns. She is regarded as an influential lobbyist on matters including anti-Semitism and shechita. Sophie is a board member of Ohr Yisrael, the Federation Synagogue in Borehamwood. Sophie is particularly adept at cultivating relationships with professionals across organisations, especially squaring the circle between the Board and the Jewish Leadership Council.
Gideon led a candid and, at times, controversial grassroots response to the spike in anti-Semitism during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge. By establishing the Campaign Against Antisemitism, Gideon sought to shake up the Jewish communal establishment and expose perceived inaction against Jew-hatred online and on the streets of Britain. He acquired mainstream media attention and organised the reported 8,000-strong ‘Zero Tolerance to Anti-Semitism’ rally outside the Royal Courts of Justice. It remains to be seen whether Gideon will lead CAA into a working partnership with the community’s core organisations.
Jo recently became director of content and community engagement at PJ Library. She previously worked as director of curriculum services at PAJES (Partnerships for Jewish Schools) – the Jewish Leadership Council division that focuses on Jewish schools – which included strategic planning, fundraising and finance. With approximately 60 percent of Jewish schoolchildren attending Jewish schools, those responsibilities constituted an important part of the community’s infrastructure. Jo is an influential member of Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue, where for years she has co-ordinated the annual womens’ Megillah reading.
Last year, Lauren became the UK director of PJ Library, which sends Jewish children’s books and music to young families across the community. It launched in the UK this month. The former UJIA communications manager sat on the board for Alei Tzion synagogue in Hendon, which describes itself as a modern Orthodox religious Zionist kehilla. She is a key figure in the UK branch of JOFA (the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance). Lauren additionally consults for the United Synagogue on PR and communications.
Cantor Zöe Jacobs
Zöe is cantor at Finchley Reform Synagogue where, alongside Rabbi Miriam Berger, she has sustained precipitous growth and fostered a flourishing community in recent years. She graduated from the Hebrew Union College in New York in 2009 and is now seen as the key conduit between leading Reform Jewish musicians in the US and their co-religionists in the UK. Zöe founded the now biennial Reform music conference, Shirei Chagigah, and has led the transformation in music and prayer in both the Reform movement and RSY-Netzer.
Rabbi Avi Lazarus
Rabbi Avi spent seven years as operations director of Seed, the Jewish family education charity, and last year became chief executive of the Federation of Synagogues. His task includes consolidating growth in the Federation, which has launched congregations in Elstree, Hendon and Manchester in recent years. Avi previously worked for the United Synagogue, overseeing its marriage and rabbinic development programmes. His success will be measured by the extent to which he is able to bring Charedi communities under the umbrella of the Federation.
Naomi is director of Noa Girls, which provides professional support for Jewish girls and women between the ages of 12 and 24 who are at risk. The charity is a vital organ in the Orthodox community and helps girls with histories of mental health issues, bereavement and bullying. Naomi has worked outside the community at Place2Be, providing therapy and mental health services to schoolchildren in deprived areas.
Miriam runs public education projects at Cambridge University’s interfaith programme. She has a theology degree from its Faculty of Divinity and also studied at Midreshet HaRova, the religious Zionist seminary in Jerusalem. Miriam co-chairs the Borehamwood Partnership Minyan, Kehillat Nashira, which she founded in 2013 to provide inclusive Orthodox Jewish prayer space and is the first of its kind in the UK. Miriam is also an Adam Science graduate and a graduate of the prestigious Susi Bradfield Fellowship at the London School of Jewish Studies.
Carly was made director of communications and philanthropy at the Tamares Group, the private equity investment firm headed by Finnish-Jewish philanthropist, Poju Zabludowicz, last September. The group makes a massive contribution to Jewish causes and charities in the UK and Israel. Carly was previously head of communications at BICOM, of which Poju was until recently chair, and worked in public affairs at the Israeli Embassy between 2010 and 2012. At BICOM, she exacted an apology from Murdoch over anti-Semitic cartoons, and at the Embassy she was widely acknowledged as the backroom operator behind the ambassador.
Carly was appointed director of communications and external affairs at the Office of the Chief Rabbi last year. She worked as campaigns director for the Union of Jewish Students and headed the charitable trust of David Kyte, the trader and co-founder of London Maccabi, before taking up her current role. The Manchester pharmacology and physiology graduate was central to the success of Shabbat UK, the initiative launched by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. The event, which took place last October, saw some 100,000 people taking part in special activities to mark Shabbat.
Jonny has been senior public affairs officer at the Community Security Trust (CST) since 2012. His role includes representing the CST to government and MPs on matters including security and terrorism. Jonny deals with groups both within and outside of the Jewish community, and helped the CST produce a robust but measured response to the spike in anti-Semitism during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge last summer.
Jonathan is a political commentator specialising in Israel and the Middle East. He appears regularly on the BBC and other channels, including Sky News, Al Jazeera and Fox News. The Oxford graduate is a foreign correspondent for international Israeli news channel i24. He previously worked as director of public affairs at the Zionist Federation and is a member of the international division of the Board of Deputies. Jonathan also heads the communications team of the grassroots group, Campaign Against Antisemitism [see entry on Gideon Falter].
Sarah is the Labour parliamentary candidate for Finchley and Golders Green, the constituency with the highest proportion of Jewish constituents in the country (37 percent of residents, according to the 2011 census). She would make the Forty Under 40 based on her campaign in the traditionally Tory-voting north London seat, but Sarah could disappear from the political limelight on 7 May. She holds degrees from Cambridge University and Harvard Law School, and practices as a barrister specialising in planning law. Sarah also teaches law at the London School of Economics and gives legal advice to vulnerable Londoners.
Gila is head of capital at the Department for Education, overseeing the building and funding of new schools, and helping determine public investment in the education sector. Previously head of the Apprenticeship Unit of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Gila began her career in Government as private secretary to Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and David Cameron. She is also a trustee of the Jewish social justice charity, Tzedek, for which Gila, who has degrees in sociology and social policy, supports the community’s response to extreme poverty on an international scale.
Dave is a co-chairman at Keshet UK and has been involved in the Jewish LGBTQ forum since its inception. The JFS old boy led efforts to provide anti-homophobia training at his alma mater after it showed students a slide with the logo of a ‘gay cure’ group in 2012. He is chairman of Gay Jews in London, which has 500 members, and works in marketing management at Moss Bros Group, the formal menswear business. Earlier this year, he was listed in the 30 under 30 of Drapers, the trade journal of the fashion business.
Rebecca is a public relations professional who co-chairs the Labour Women in Business Network, which she set up in 2012. She previously served as director of Labour Friends of Israel and now sits on its board. Rebecca is involved in Jewish communal causes as a Young Patron of Norwood, the special educational needs charity, and is a former member of the UJIA Youth Movements Allocations committee. She is also taking part in Gamechangers, the Jewish Leadership Council’s programme for senior leaders, and works as a freelancer for GE Capital.
Rabbi Dovid Tugendhaft
Dovid is one of two people to have received smicha from the legendary Charedi Litvish Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel. After being ordained at the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, he came to London and established the Ohr Yisroel Congregation in 1999. Dovid founded the Federation-affiliated Nishmas Yisroel Synagogue a decade later and continues to officiate at the Hendon-based community. He is greatly involved in Seed UK, the Jewish family education charity, where he was previously director of educational development and now oversees the ‘24/6 Halacha hotline’, and the Hasmonean High School ‘Beis’ programme.
Rachel served as vice president (higher education remit) of the National Union of Students between 2012 and 2014, helping represent the country’s seven million students. In that role, the Leeds University’s law graduate was vocal about anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in the highest ranks of student politics. She is now campaigns officer at Shelter UK, the charity that works to end homelessness and bad housing in England and Scotland. Rachel, a Liverpudlian, holds a Masters in human rights from the London School of Economics. Rachel is the leading political figure of her generation and a strong candidate for the next cohort of Jewish Labour MPs.