By Simon Rocker
February 20, 2009
The decision of the Council of Christians and Jews to create three new Jewish presidents is noteworthy for this: it represents growing recognition of the religious diversity of British Jewry.
The interfaith organisation can now muster a minyan of presidents, five Christians and five Jews. But for many years, there was just a single Jewish seat at the top table, exclusively reserved for the Chief Rabbi.
The former Chief Rabbi Lord Jakobovits protected his Orthodox monopoly, refusing to countenance a Progressive representative. Finally, his successor, Sir Jonathan Sacks opened the door and the first Progressive president was appointed in 2001. But then the Liberals and Reform almost fell out over the post; when it later became vacant and the head of the Reform movement was invited to fill it, the Liberals were displeased and began to press for their own representation.
Now not only do the Liberals have their own president, but so, too, do Masorti and the Sephardim.
The CCJ's move is a demonstration of practical pluralism, coming in the same week, incidentally, that the leaders of the United Synagogue, Reform, Masorti and Liberals renewed the Stanmore Accords, the 1998 peace pact that , over the past year, had looked in danger of falling apart.