The Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) has reiterated its call for the establishment of a “unified communal structure” with the Board of Deputies.
The call – to ensure that the “communal architecture is fit for purpose and sustainable” – came after JLC president Jonathan Goldstein told a Limmud audience last month that were too many charities operating in the British Jewish community.
Goldstein, discussing financial sustainability, said bluntly: “We’ve got too many charities. We’re raising £90 million a year from private donations, trusts and individuals – that’s a huge amount of money. Yet I know there’s duplication all over the community.
“Ultimately, over the course of the next ten years, I bet you that of the 35 organisations [which are part of the JLC] five to seven of them will have merged together.”
The JLC’s Simon Johnson, in response to a query from Jewish News, said: “The JLC is committed to ensuring our communal architecture is fit for purpose and sustainable for years to come.
“This is why the JLC has always been in favour of discussions which could lead to taking the best of both the Board and the JLC and creating a unified communal structure that could best serve and reflect British Jewry now and in the future.”
In response, Board president Marie van der Zyl appeared to pour cold water on the idea of unifying or merging the two organisations, noting that the BoD had accountability “that comes from being broad based, democratic and elected”.
In a statement to JN, she said: “We welcome all opportunities to strengthen the voice of our community.
“The Board will continue to uphold the principle that the representative body that speaks for the community must have the legitimacy and accountability that comes from being broad based, democratic and elected.”
The JLC has tried in the past to seek a merger with the Board. However, in 2015, this was scuppered when Deputies rejected the idea after they felt that they would be relegated to second-rate status.
Also, many noted at the time that while Board honorary officers were accountable to deputies, who themselves were accountable to their constituencies, the JLC had no such governance structure.
Meanwhile, the JLC expects to present to the Charity Commission its investigation into its own conduct following allegations of financial impropriety by former chief executive Jeremy Newmark.
The charity watchdog agreed to the JLC’s terms of reference for its independent review into the handling of Newmark’s 2013 resignation, which at the time was reported to be on the grounds of health.
While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.
That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.
We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.
Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”