Commission launched to take evidence of racism experienced by black British Jews
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Commission launched to take evidence of racism experienced by black British Jews

Board of Deputies creates initiative as wave of protests against racism sweep the globe following the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

A Board of Deputies plenary, with President Marie van der Zyl (second left)
A Board of Deputies plenary, with President Marie van der Zyl (second left)

Black British Jews are being invited to give evidence about their experiences of racism in the Jewish community as part of a new Commission on Racial Inclusivity.

The Board of Deputies made the announcement this week as anti-racism protests sweep across the globe, following of the killing unarmed black man, George Floyd, by a white Minneapolis police officer.

After hearing evidence, the Commission will reach out to synagogues, schools and other communal institutions to discuss necessary changes to improve the experience for black British Jewish, followed by a review of measures.

The Board said, “over the last week, we have heard from a range of Black British Jews that our own communal spaces are not always welcoming. We have heard complaints about being stared at in synagogues, being asked probing questions, being given a hard time by security at communal buildings, facing racism in Jewish schools, a lack of racial diversity in Jewish leadership positions and even heart-breaking prejudice in the context of seeking another Jewish partner.”

Its President, Marie van der Zyl, said: “While we as a community must show solidarity and seek to change our whole society, there are things we still need to fix in our own community.”

She said the Commission “will seek to listen to Black British Jews to understand the prejudice and barriers that exist in our own community and work with all our partner institutions to make sure that there is zero tolerance in our community for racism of any kind.”

Chair of the Commission, Stephen Bush, is political editor of the New Statesman. He said: “I am honoured to have been invited to chair this important and timely initiative for the Jewish community, with the support of the Board of Deputies.”

Together with Black British Jews from across the community, we will be able to explore the issues at the heart of the Black-Jewish experience. I invite Black British Jews to come forward with their points of view so we can get this process started.”

  • The Board of Deputies invites Black British Jews, Jews of Colour and others who are interested in participating in this project to get in touch with Anthony Silkoff, on anthony.silkoff@bod.org.uk.
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