Backlash against Charedi Jews urging Board boycott
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Backlash against Charedi Jews urging Board boycott

Orthodox activists call on politicians to snub the annual event - but others say activists 'don't speak in my name'

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

A Board of Deputies plenary, with President Marie van der Zyl (second left), newly-elected earlier this year.
A Board of Deputies plenary, with President Marie van der Zyl (second left), newly-elected earlier this year.

Orthodox activists are being told not to claim to represent the Charedi community, after urging MPs and London Mayor Sadiq Khan to boycott this year’s Board of Deputies dinner.

The backlash against Orthodox Jews including Shraga Stern, who argues that the Boar does not represent the interests of all British Jews, began in their own Orthodox community on Tuesday.

It follows a letter sent to invited MPs from Stern, who is planning a protest outside the dinner, because the Board only represent those affiliated to their synagogues.

“They cannot truthfully claim to represent the majority of British Jews. In reality, they represent only around 20 per cent of British Jews. The remaining 80 per cent of Jews, a large proportion of which is made up by the Charedi Jews, do not consider that their views are represented by the BoD,” said Stern.

However, on social media angry letters began circulating from users purporting to be Orthodox Jews annoyed that Stern had signed his letters “on behalf of the Charedi community” – with one in particular gaining traction.

“What a cheek,” wrote David Spitzer. “Your gripe with the BoD appears to be that they have no legitimacy as spokespeople for the Jewish community in Britain. By the same token, who appointed you spokesperson for the Charedi community?”

Elsewhere, a petition was started Stern and “organisations like the JCC [Jewish Community Council] accused of “seeking to capitalise” on a lack of unified representation of the Charedi community.

The petition, which is highly unusual in the Orthodox community, says: “For too long has the Orthodox community been under-represented or misrepresented,” adding that the JCC and Stern were “trying to capitalise on this… they have not been elected nor appointed to represent the community”.

Stern says the Board “is disenfranchising our community” with its stance on education, claiming that three out of every four children in Jewish schools are Charedi. He accuses the deputies of “colluding (in all likelihood illegally) with Ofsted to destroy our community. We have a QC opinion in our possession confirming this”.

Attending the Board’s dinner, says Stern, would be “a slap in the face to the Charedi Jewish community. By attending, you would be crossing a red line and hurting the 67,000 Chareidi Jews of UK, and showing your support for those who seek to destroy our community”.

The Board of Deputies declined to comment.

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