Richard Verber, the youngest senior vice-president in the history of the Board of Deputies, is standing down completely from the Board at the next election in May this year.
And Mr Verber, a new first-time parent whose full-time job is with World Jewish Relief, says something needs to change in the Board structure and that of other Jewish charities. How, he asks, “can we harness the talent that exists in our community for people who aren’t available for meetings during ‘traditional’ hours? This includes people with young families — and for mums with childcare commitments in particular — and those who don’t work a standard 9-5. Early mornings, early evenings and Sundays are not convenient for a large percentage of our community”.
Mr Verber, who it had been widely thought would stand as president, following the shock announcement by Jonathan Arkush that he would not run for a second term, said: “now is not the right time” for him to be a candidate for the presidency.
But he said that the role of president of the Board currently demanded near-24-hour visibility. The post, he said, “currently demands such a commitment that the role is really only open to someone who is retired, self-employed or sufficiently senior in their organisation”.
Mr Verber believed that a new leadership model might be considered, including the possibility of a Deputies president who was salaried. He called for more delegation and more understanding that the professional staff could well speak on the Board’s behalf.
He added: “I was only elected with the largest ever mandate recorded because Deputies recognised the need to reform. I am proud of the changes we have achieved but know there is more to do. The last thing I want is that my ‘record’ of being the youngest ever Senior Vice President stands for another 258 years. If I’ve shown that young people can reach the top, then it needs others to follow: if I’m a one-off, I will have failed. I hope that someone takes my ‘record’ from me soon”.
Mr Verber paid tribute to World Jewish Relief, which he has represented as a Deputy, and to its leadership which encouraged and supported him in his work as Board senior vice-president.