The first ever Jewish Community Seminar for local councillors drew over forty councillors to Bloomsbury Square for a five hour introduction to our community’s most pressing issues.
The London Jewish Forum, Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies co-convened the event, which drew in around 20 expert panellists from across the Jewish community. Areas that were discussed were Israel, antisemitism, social care, housing, planning, education and the Jewish media.
After hearing about the demography of the London Jewish community from Dr Jonathan Boyd of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research, delegates had a chance to discuss the most pressing issues with a panel including Board President Vivian Wineman, JLC CEO Simon Johnson and LJF Chair Adrian Cohen. The councillors then separated in to break-out sessions to discuss key issues in detail.
Councillors representing the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP attended from a total of 20 of London’s boroughs, ranging from Jewish strongholds in Barnet, Hackney, Haringey, Redbridge and Harrow, to areas with smaller Jewish populations like Merton, Lambeth and Waltham Forest.
Councillors were alarmed about the rise in antisemitic incidents over the summer and were interested in the fine line between anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric and behaviour. One councillor with a portfolio for crime confided that she did not think enough had been done to prosecute antisemitic incidents in her borough and pledged to raise the issue with the Borough Commander.
A number of councillors were very keen to hear about how they could present Israel’s case to council colleagues and their ward residents, including how to counter divisive boycotts and promote peace projects instead.
In the session on social care, one councillor expressed gratitude to the organisers for signposting who to contact when her residents enquired about Jewish social care providers. She had found it difficult to get this information from her local synagogue and now felt more empowered to help.
Over the course of the day, councillors were able to hear expert presentations from the CST, Holocaust Memorial Day, We Believe in Israel, UK Lawyers for Israel, Mitzvah Day, Norwood, Agudas Israel, Jewish Community Housing Association, and a range of Jewish papers. Chaya Spitz from Interlink in Stamford Hill and community leader Rabbi Avrohom Pinter helped to create a much better understanding of the strictly orthodox community’s needs, including on social care and schools.
LJF Chair, Adrian Cohen said: “The seminar provided a timely opportunity to bring together politicians and communal leaders and executives, so that they could gain a better understanding of the interaction between the community and local government, especially given the current environment with sometimes acute local hostility to the community’s interests. We look forward to building on these relationships, which have now been forged in nearly two-thirds of London’s boroughs.”
Board President, Vivian Wineman said: “At a time of increased anti-Israel and antisemitic activity, it was extremely important to bring together local politicians and communal organisations and help them to better understand each others’ needs. Throughout the day, there was a very strong sense of turning strangers in to friends. This first event was a huge success and we will now be looking at repeating it in in other cities around the UK.”
JLC CEO Simon Johnson said: “With Israel delegitimisation campaigns often targeted at councillors, this event is particularly timely. We hope to continue to build resilience to activities which target Israel and Jews. This was a fantastic opportunity to discuss our community’s infrastructure and offer our collective resources to the councillors, who seemed very appreciative.”
The London Jewish Forum, whose stakeholders include the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council, wishes to express deep concern about the outspoken comments of the Mayor of London regarding the conflict in Israel and Gaza and in particular their potential impact on community relations in London.
It is irresponsible for Boris Johnson to be so selective in his criticism of Israel in light of the recent conflict, particularly in a climate where Jewish Londoners are feeling vulnerable and isolated, including by reason of the pernicious targeting of prominent Jewish cultural events in London. The Mayor shouldn’t be bringing the Israel-Gaza debate into London politics.
LJF calls upon the Mayor’s Office to be proactive in expending efforts that boost community cohesion, rather than making unhelpful comments about Israel that could encourage divisions and entrench local tensions.
The London Jewish Forum hosted a reception for Jewish Local Councillors on Tuesday 22nd July at the London Jewish Community Centre in Golders Green. The event was a great success and gave LJF and the Councillors an opportunity to establish a network of contacts who serve boroughs and Jewish organisations across the Capital. The event also sought to allow the London Jewish Forum to explain our work and how we advocate for London’s Jewish community on the core issues that affect them. Over 25 councillors attended as did many community leaders.
The evening had 5 speakers who covered a range of topics. Adrian Cohen, Chair of LJF, began proceedings by welcoming those in attendance. He then introduced both Gillian Merron, Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies and Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the JLC, to discuss the issues and professional bodies of the community respectively.
Elected councillors were also represented in the speeches with Cllr Joe Goldberg representing Labour, Cllr Abraham Jacobson representing Liberal Democrats and Robert Rams, speaking as head of Office for the GLA Conservatives. They recounted the various challenging and enjoyable moments of their time in Office and expressed their support for the event and work of the LJF. Since the event LJF has been inundated with emails of thanks and looks forward to hosting London’s local councillors again in the near future.
London Jewish Forum and Jewish Leadership Council Appoint Jay Stoll as Public Affairs Director
The London Jewish Forum is pleased to announce the appointment of Jay Stoll as Public Affairs Director, a position which is shared with the Jewish Leadership Council. Jay will replace Gabi Kobrin, who is leaving to live in Israel.
Jay Stoll, originally from Manchester, is currently the General Secretary of the London School of Economics Students Union, after graduating from LSE in 2013. He will start his new role on July 7th 2014.
Adrian Cohen, Chairman of the London Jewish Forum, said
“We are very pleased that Jay Stoll will be continuing the excellent work that Gabi Kobrin has done on behalf of the London Jewish Forum. Jay was the outstanding candidate and his reputation from LSE will mean that we have a first class young professional helping to advance the cause of the Jewish Community in London.”
Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the JLC, commented:
“After a thorough search, I am delighted to have the chance to work with Jay in our public affairs team. He comes with an excellent reputation from his time at LSE and is one of the most talented student officers from within our community. He will continue and enhance the superb work that Gabi Kobrin has done. We will miss Gabi, but wish her well in her new life in Israel. Jay will work with Claudia Mendoza, who is returning to the JLC after her maternity leave. I am excited to have Claudia and Jay spearheading the JLC’s Public Affairs work.”
Jay Stoll commented:
“I am honoured to have the opportunity to work with the JLC and the London Jewish Forum and to promote the interests of the community in the public arena. The vision of both organisations to enhance the community’s discourse with stakeholders and policy makers is an exciting one and I look forward to being part of the team.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The Jewish Leadership Council is an umbrella body for Jewish Community institutions. It currently has 27 member organisations, whose senior lay leader sits on the Council of Members. The Council elects a Board of Trustees. The JLC’s role is to address the strategic challenges of the community and to work in close partnership with its member organisations.
2. The London Jewish Forum is an advocate for the Capital’s Jewish Community, campaigning and influencing change in the public institutions that make decisions which affect Jewish lives. Rooted within Jewish values, it works across the community regardless of religious, cultural or political affiliations or beliefs, and with our neighbors. The LJF works to identify the issues and concerns of London’s Jewish community and ensure that City Hall and Town Halls understand and are responsive to them.
We are delighted that many supporters of the London Jewish Forum were elected in the 2014 local elections. Several members of London Jewish Forum’s steering won seats across the capital including: Peter Golds, Tower Hamlets; Stephen Greek, Harrow; Adam Langleben, Barnet; Peter Mason, Ealing; Neil Nerva, Brent; Phil Rosenberg, Camden and Danny Seal, Barnet.
More than one third of Barnet councillors are now Jewish including 13 Tories, 7 Labour and the only remaining Lib Dem. As expected Hackney, Redbridge, Brent, Westminster, Enfield, Haringey and Camden Councils also elected a significant numbers of Jewish councillors.
Moreover, many boroughs with a smaller Jewish population have elected Jewish councillors such as Lewisham and Southwark.
In Tower Hamlets, Peter Golds was re-elected for the Conservatives and will continue to fight against malpractice in elections and funding in the borough.
The London Jewish Forum will be reaching out to supportive Jewish and non-Jewish councillors across the city and looks forward to working with them.
Adrian Cohen, Chair of the London Jewish Forum said “Congratulations to all our supporters who retained or won their seats including the 7 members of our Steering Group and commiserations to all our friends who lost their seats. LJF will look to build on its policies with all councillors so that it can ensure Councils take into account the concerns and needs of Jewish residents.”
MEP candidates agreed that there should not be specific, discriminatory labelling of religiously slaughtered meat, and to protect religious freedoms including Brit Milah, at a European Elections hustings for the London Jewish community.
The London Jewish Forum (LJF) and Board of Deputies of British Jews convened the 90 minute event, hosted by LJF Chair and Member of the Board of Deputies Adrian Cohen. It was an opportunity for London MEP candidates to put forward their policy positions on a variety of matters, including issues of most concern to local Jewish voters.
These were laid out in the Board’s Jewish Manifesto for the May 22 European Parliament elections, which were sent out to every candidate. They included: religious freedom; fighting extremism, racism and anti Semitism, post-Holocaust issues and EU-Israel relations.
The candidates were Danny Bates (Green), Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP (Liberal Democrat), Claude Moraes MEP (Labour), and Marina Yannakoudakis MEP (Conservative). The UK Independence Party was invited but declined the invitation.
The 50-strong audience tested the candidates with a number of questions, including about how the EU can deal with the rising tide of racism and anti Semitism in some parts of Europe. There was unanimity of concern about the situation and candidates urged voters to support an EU that protects the place of minorities. It was agreed that preserving the memory was crucial to this.
Reassuringly, all candidates agreed that there should not be specific, discriminatory labelling of religiously slaughtered meat, and to protect religious freedoms like Brit Milah.
Although candidates had different views on how to best bring about about peace in the Middle East, they concurred on the essential values presented in the Board’s Manifesto of peace, security, prosperity and equality.
Adrian Cohen, Chair of the London Jewish Forum, said: “All of the candidates attending last Wednesday’s hustings (Green, LibDem, Labour and Conservative) showed a deep commitment to the issues for Jewish Londoners highlighted in the Board’s European manifesto, from support for shechita to security for Israel.
“It is a real shame UKIP refused to participate in the hustings. But with just two weeks to go before the European election the overriding message of this evening’s hustings was the importance of encouraging people to vote. The biggest danger for the community is apathy and disillusionment, which will allow the worrying trends of extremism within Europe to flourish.”
Vivian Wineman, President of the Board of Deputies, said: “These elections matter. The EU creates up to 50% of laws enacted in the UK, and has a budget of around £125bn.
“That is why the Board of Deputies has created the first-ever Jewish Manifesto for the European Elections, to empower the community to ask the tough questions and to inform candidates about our issues.
Hustings like these allow the community to test the candidates on their views on key Jewish interests and I was really pleased with the level of debate and response. I urge all in the community to go out and vote. Test the parties against the Jewish Manifesto and vote for any non-racist party.”
More information and photos can be found at www.facebook.com/londonjewishforum
On 31st March 2014 the London Jewish Forum hosted several London Assembly Members on the second of a series of tours of Jewish London.
The London Jewish Forum was joined by Jennette Arnold AM, North East, Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest; Gareth Bacon AM, Londonwide; James Cleverly AM, Bexley and Bromley and Roger Evans AM, Havering and Redbridge. The tour is an effective way for London Assembly Members to see the community in action and gain a deeper insight into it. The afternoon showcased the vitality of the community whilst highlighting some of the challenges the community currently faces.
The tour began with a visit to New North London Synagogue where the Assembly Members were joined by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Rabbi of New North London Synagogue and Claire Mandel, Executive Director.
The Assembly Members then visited Hasmonean Girls School where there was a discussion with Alastair Falk, Executive Director of Partnership for Jewish Schools; Rabbi Meyer, Headteacher; Mrs Fink, Head of the Girl’s School; and some pupils.
The final stop was at Norwood, The Kennedy Leigh Family Centre where Angela Duce, Director of Operations and Dolyanna Mordohai, Business Manager for Family Support & Adoption, gave the Assembly Members a tour of the building and explained the vital work that Norwood does in the Jewish community.
Comments on the tour:
Gabi Kobrin, Public Affairs Director for London Jewish Forum said:
This tour was vital to ensure that London Assembly Members deepen their understanding and relationships with institutions and organisations in the London Jewish community. We value their time and interest in us in order to continue to develop a strong and cohesive working relationship between City Hall and the Jewish community in London.
Jennette Arnold OBE AM said:
My tour of Jewish London, organised by the London Jewish Forum, was absolutely fantastic. It was interesting, informative and showed me places in London that I’ve never visited previously. The list of places that we visited was a great mix, which incorporated a synagogue, a school and family centre, and gave an excellent, rounded insight into Jewish London – both in the present and the past. I commend the work of the London Jewish Forum, thank them for their extremely stimulating tour and look forward to working with them in the future in my role on the London Assembly.
Gareth Bacon AM said:
I greatly enjoyed the tour organised by the London Jewish Forum. It was a highly informative afternoon, and the high point for me was having the opportunity to meet and speak with Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, a fascinating man of tremendous wisdom and tolerance who has devoted his life to his community and the service of others.
James Cleverly AM said:
I’d like to thank the London Jewish Forum for giving me the chance to meet people at the synagogue, school and community centre who are making such as positive difference to the Jewish and wider communities.
Roger Evans AM said:
The visit really helped me to appreciate the experiences of the Jewish community in twenty first century London and the valuable contribution that they make to our capital city.
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Rabbi of New North London Synagogue said:
It was an absolute pleasure and a privilege to meet with members of the London Assembly and to hear of the important work the London Jewish Forum. We very much look forward to furthering our relationships with them, hopefully including a future Shabbat visit to NNLS by the Assembly members
Elaine Kerr, CEO of Norwood said:
It was a valuable opportunity to host the Assembly Members to our Norwood Kennedy Leigh Centre and to share with them information about our work and services to the Jewish community. We appreciated their genuine interest in understanding our aims as an organisation, our approach as well as our challenges. We hope that this will be a further way that we could continue to build the links between City Hall and the Jewish community
Rabbi Meyer, Executive Headteacher of Hasmonean said:
It was a privilege to welcome the Assembly Members to Hasmonean High School and to give them an insight into the ethical and moral values that underpin Hasmonean and ensure that our students not only achieve standards of excellence in their Jewish and secular subjects, but are also imbued with a commitment to their community and wider society. We hope that through this visit they will have a great appreciation of the important contribution Jewish schools, and indeed all faith schools, can play in engendering mutual respect and understanding across all students.
On 24th February 2014 the London Jewish Forum hosted several London Assembly Members on a tour of Jewish London.
Enabling London Assembly Members to see the community in action, the participants heard directly from chosen community representatives and were able to ask questions, whilst gaining insight into the operations. Assembly members included Andrew Dismore AM, Barnet and Camden; Joanne McCartney AM, Enfield and Haringey; Murad Qureshi AM, Londonwide; and Navin Shah AM, Brent and Harrow.
Beginning with a tour of JW3 by the CEO, Raymond Simonson, the participants heard the philosophy behind the establishment ofJW3. They were then taken to visit the Independent Jewish Day School, where they met Rabbi J Ebrahimoff, Head Teacher and Lady Kestenbaum, Deputy Head Teacher. Alastair Falk, Executive Director of Partnerships for Jewish Schools gave an in depth explanation on the context of Jewish Schools in London. The Assembly Members then toured the school and observed pupils learning about their current fair trade project. The last stop on the tour was a visit to Jewish Care, Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Campus. Participants were met by Daniel Casson, Assistant Director of Business Development and Lisa Wimborne, Head of PR and External Affairs. Daniel and Lisa showed the Assembly Members around the multi-purpose building and then led a discussion on the social care policy challenges currently facing the Jewish community.
Feedback given was that the tour was highly successful and praised by both the participants and those whom they had met. It showcased the vitality of the community and also highlighted the challenges it faces. The London Jewish Forum are organising a series of these tours to enable many Assembly Members to see the community in action and strengthen their relationships.
Comments on the tour:
Gabi Kobrin, LJF Public Affairs Director said:
“This tour was vital to ensure that London Assembly Members deepen their understanding and relationships with institutions and organisations in the London Jewish community. We value their time and interest in us in order to continue to develop a strong and cohesive working relationship between City Hall and the Jewish community in London.”
Rabbi Ebrahmioff, Head teacher of Independent Jewish Day School said:
It was a privilege to host the Assembly Members in our school. This special visit was an opportunity to celebrate our achievements as a school and build further links with other communities who face similar challenges and aspire to achieve common goals.
Lisa Wimborne, Head of PR and External Affairs for Jewish Care said:
“We were delighted to be able to welcome the GLA Assembly members and staff from the London Jewish Forum to our Maurice and Vivienne Wohl campus. This has been a fantastic opportunity to both showcase and discuss our approach to meeting the welfare and social needs of the community.”
“Funding of local social care services has been hit hard by austerity cuts, the impact of these are felt heavily by the already over stretched NHS. We called on the assembly members to reinforce the value of good social care for both recipients and the economy and to use their powers to ensure a more strategic approach to health and social care provision in the capital”
Navin Shah, AM said:
“I was hugely impressed with the JW3 building designed with the concept of openness and inclusivity. From the visit it was evident that JW3 is a resource for all communities – thus celebrating London’s diversity as well as being totally inclusive. Overall, I was overwhelmed in the way the high quality facilities and services are provided to the members of the Jewish community of all age groups ranging from children, to the elderly and the survivors.”
Joanne McCartney AM said:
“I was delighted to have the opportunity to be invited to the Tour of Jewish London by the London Jewish Forum yesterday. Part of the tour included visiting JW3, a new Jewish cultural centre which was very impressive, open and a vibrant addition to the wider local community. I would recommend that local people visit this great new centre.”
Andrew Dismore AM said:
“I am grateful to the London Jewish Forum for the opportunity to visit JW3 and to renew acquaintances at Independent Jewish Day School and Jewish Care. I think the range of Jewish life was well illustrated by this snapshot afternoon visit and I’ve put forward various ideas for a repeat afternoon for Assembly Members to see other Jewish institutions and activities.”