Jewish Leadership Council seeking ‘unified communal structure’

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Jewish Leadership Council seeking ‘unified communal structure’

JLC wants a 'fit for purpose' communal architecture, but Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl appears to pour cold water on the idea of a merger

Joe Millis is a journalist

Jonathan Goldstein addressing Limmud Festival 2018
Jonathan Goldstein addressing Limmud Festival 2018

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”.

Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl

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.


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