Dec 17

CHANUKAH IN THE SQUARE ATTRACTS RECORD CROWD

Chanukah in the Square, held on December 16th 2014, attracted a record crowd of 7500 people, drawn to Trafalgar Square by the 25 foot Menorah, free doughnuts, and music.

The event, organised jointly by The Jewish Leadership Council, Chabad Lubavitch, and the London Jewish Forum, with support from the Mayor of London and Board of Deputies of British Jews, provided an opportunity for the Jewish community and Londoners of all faiths to celebrate Jewish culture with the lighting of the first light of Chanukah in the heart of Central London.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, addressed the crowd, and there were also speeches from the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis and the Ambassador of Israel, H.E. Daniel Taub.

The Blessings for the first night of Chanukah were beautifully sung by the “Three Chazzanim” – Avromi Freilich (Hampstead Garden Suburb), Stephen Leas (Central Synagogue) and Adam Musikant (Lauderdale Road Spanish & Portuguese).

Music and entertainment was a major feature of the event. The crowd sang and danced to music from Neshama, under the direction of Danny Shine, the Jewish and Irish violinist, Daniel Ahaviel, and the highly popular Israeli singer, Itzik Dadya under the musical direction of Gershon Freistadt.

This was the seventh year of Chanukah in the Square. In attendance were many communal leaders, Members of Parliament, Local Councillors and members of the GLA.

Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said “This was a wonderful celebration of Jewish culture, music and faith. We were thrilled with the joyful atmosphere that was created and that so many people came out to share in this most joyful of festivals”.

Bentzi Sudak, Chief Executive of Chabad Lubavitch UK, said “Once again, the Menorah in Trafalgar Square, showed the true spirit of the London Jewish community, gathering in huge numbers with to proudly celebrate our heritage and the message of Chanukah, which, like the lights of the Menorah, endure through all times”

Adrian Cohen, Chairman of the London Jewish Forum, said “’We were delighted with last night’s very successful ‘Chanukah in the Square’. It provides a focal point for the engagement between the city’s representatives with London’s Jewish Community and it is striking that so many thousands of Jewish Londoners came to celebrate in one of London’s most iconic sites, especially after the troubles of the summer and autumn. The heart-warming words of encouragement from the Mayor, Boris Johnson ,were particularly appreciated as was the attendance of Members of Parliament. London Assembly Members and Councillors.

 

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Dec 15

Dedication to Mrs Gitty Pinter

Many people gathered at Yesodey Hatorah Girl’s School for a dedication ceremony for the late Headmistress, Mrs Gitty Pinter.

 

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Rabbi Pinter, David Lammy MP and chair of LJF, Adrian Cohen at Yesoday Hatorah Girl’s School for the dedication to the late Headmistress, Mrs Gitty Pinter

Dec 04

Think Jewish London with Sadiq Khan MP

On 3rd December 2014, London Jewish Forum met with Sadiq Khan MP, as part of our Think Jewish London series.  The meeting was chaired by LJF trustee Andrew Gilbert and was attended by, amongst others, LJF chair and director Adrian Cohen and Jay Stoll respectively. Also in attendance were elected Jewish councillors  and a number of representatives and professionals from the Board, JLC and the CST.

Sadiq addressed the challenges for London and the Labour Party’s vision in a meeting he later described via Twitter as a “thought provoking (and) wide ranging”.

Immigration, cohesion, citizenship, antisemitism, South London, transport, faith schools, Jewish-Muslim relations and Ed Miliband/Israel were all discussed. Chair of LJF Adrian Cohen said ‘It was an impressive discussion with one of the leading figures in British politics…. A discussion we need to continue’.

In this spirit, LJF will be soon announcing our next two ‘Think Jewish London’ events and we hope to open such events to much bigger audiences.

 

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Dec 03

London Jewish Forum meets with Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Steven Greenhalgh

On 2nd December the London Jewish Forum convened a meeting with Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), Steven Greenhalgh. MOPAC is the strategic oversight body which sets the direction and budget for the Metropolitan Police Service on behalf of the Mayor. Also in attendance were representatives from the Community Security Trust and the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

The agenda for the meeting, chaired by LJF Chair Adrian Cohen,  focussed on contemporary matters relating to the policing of antisemitism. We discussed the responses of the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service to incidents reported on UK demonstrations during this Summer’s Israel-Gaza conflict and the general effect the increased tensions had on community cohesion. Also raised was the prevalence of online antisemitic abuse, particularly on social media, and the effect it is having on London’s Jewish Community. Most of these matters were factored in to a broader conversation about MOPAC’s Hate Crime Reduction Strategy, an initiative LJF clearly supports.

Proactive measures that could be taken by the GLA and its Assembly Members were also discussed, and LJF looks forwards to working with MOPAC and associated partners on such matters in the future.

The meeting was the latest in our productive relationship with MOPAC and we would like to place on record our thanks to the Deputy Mayor for his time and hospitality.

 

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Philip Rosenberg, Adrian Cohen, Deputy Mayor Steven Greenhalgh, Jonny Newton and Jay Stoll

 

 

Oct 31

LJF is proud to support World Jewish Relief’s Emergency Appeal

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Sep 12

LJF hosts first Jewish Community Seminar for Local Councillors

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.”

Aug 06

LJF Responds to Boris Johnson’s Comments on Gaza

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.

Jul 29

LJF Hosts Reception for Recently Elected Jewish Councillors

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.

Jun 10

LJF Appoints new Public Affairs Director

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.

May 28

Local Elections 2014

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.”

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