Board of Deputies
The synagogue has 2 Deputies who are elected to the Board
Joel Ison & Clive Harris
Pesach message from
President Marie van der Zyl
We live in challenging times. Over the past 12 months, it seems our community has been on the receiving end of more abuse, intimidation and insults than at any time in living memory. And the most troubling thing about this antisemitism crisis is that it does not emanate from the fringes of our society as in the past but from the main party of opposition.
There is a parallel to be drawn with the story of Pesach. Back in Egypt, we were slaves and we demanded our freedom. When this was denied, our people fled in order to make new lives in their own land. Of course, our situation is very different. While there is antisemitism in the UK, we are free here and our community has and continues to live happily and contentedly. And while many of us aspire to make lives in Israel, we are certainly not fleeing anywhere.
Antisemitism is a problem we are meeting head on. When this time last year we said, “Enough is Enough” and we demonstrated outside Parliament, we meant it. I and my team at the Board of Deputies will not rest until the evil of anti-Jewish racism is banished from our political discourse.
We cannot achieve this on our own. At tough times like these we need friends both inside and outside the community. We and our communal partners need to cooperate to find a way through this most worrying of times and we all need to display a united front against the antisemites.
Recently, our lobbying played a part in Chris Williamson MP being suspended by the Labour Party after one Jew-baiting remark too many. And it was our efforts and those of our communal partners which resulted in Labour adopting the international definition of antisemitism after much prevarication last summer.
Although antisemitism is undoubtedly our number one challenge of the moment, we are not a single-issue organisation. We exist to ensure that the UK’s Jewish community can live freely, happily and continue to practise our traditions. The Board of Deputies played a prominent role in campaigning for the terrorist group Hizballah to be banned in its entirety. I am happy to say that the Government listened and responded by ending the artificial distinction between Hizballah’s political and military wings.
We made a significant intervention into the Government’s legislation on organ donation. As we moved from an opt-in system to an opt-out one, we acted to ensure that Jews of all denominations were protected, by influencing Government to provide legally worded letters of guidance. We also managed to obtain compromises from the Department for Education on relationships and sex education that will allow all parts of our community to teach according to their ethos.
This is but a snapshot of the work we do week-in, week-out for our community over a vast range of issues. With your support we will carry on safeguarding our rights and speaking out on the issues that matter to us all.
This festival of freedom reminds us how our ancestors suffered, and how lucky we are in comparison. Our aim is to ensure our children and grandchildren continue to prosper.
Chag sameach to you all.