More than 70 Hertfordshire councillors have attended a seminar to learn more about the issues affecting the Jewish community.
Senior Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs recorded messages for the event organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Hertfordshire Jewish Forum and the Jewish Leadership Council.
Councillors heard about issues including antisemitism, education, health and social care, and planning, as well the community’s relationship with Israel.
Attendees at Tursday’s online seminar included the leader of Hertsmere, Maurice Bright, who is also deputy leader of Hertfordshire County Council; Elizabeth Dennis-Harburg from North Hertfordshire; Sharon Taylor from Stevenage Council and the Executive Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor.
Almost every synagogue in Hertfordshire were represented at the seminar and local leaders had the opportunity to speak to their councillors about their communities.
Communal organisations including CST, UJIA, Mitzvah Day, Jewish Care, Norwood, Jami and Maccabi GB presented at the seminar, alongside local schools Clore Shalom and Immanuel College.
Goodwill messages were sent by the Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden MP, who spoke about his pride of representing the fast-growing Hertsmere Jewish community. He said: “I’m very much aware of and engaged in the issues that matter to the community, from defending kosher practices and community security to tackling online hate.”
Daisy Cooper, Liberal Democrat MP for St Albans, spoke about her strong relationship with the city’s two synagogues adding: “I would encourage all councillors to think about what they can do to support our local Jewish community.”
Steve Reed MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said it was important to support Hertfordshire’s diverse communities including the Jewish community, adding: “In recent years we’ve seen an increase in antisemitism and it’s important that we all understand what support and help the community needs to tackle the consequences of that.”
Michael Wegier, Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies said: “This seminar is further evidence that the Jewish community has a bright future in Hertfordshire. The relationships between locally elected representatives and the community that have been strengthened and deepened through this seminar will serve everyone in Hertfordshire well in the years to come.”
Claudia Mendoza, Co-Chief Executive, Jewish Leadership Council, said: “We were delighted to run our first councillors seminar in Hertfordshire alongside our partners at the Board of Deputies and Hertfordshire Jewish Forum. The seminar provided an opportunity to magnify and amplify the work of the Jewish charitable sector and to educate councillors from across Hertfordshire on the needs of the Jewish communities they serve.”
“The seminar also highlighted to councillors the growing demand for the services our members provide in Hertfordshire. We would like to thank our member organisations for giving up the time to represent our community.”
Daniel Kosky, Director, Hertfordshire Jewish Forum said: “We are grateful to the more than 70 councillors from across every district and borough council in Hertfordshire for attending our first ever councillors seminar in the county.”
“Hertfordshire has the fastest growing Jewish population of anywhere in the UK, and it is vital for councillors to understand the needs of the Jewish communities they serve. We very much hope this seminar will be the start of a close working relationship with councillors from across Hertfordshire.”
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