The old (and new) boys' club


By Jenni Frazer
November 3, 2010
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The Jewish Leadership Council is full of itself, having elected its new trustees this week. Drumroll, please, for "Bicom chairman Poju Zabludowicz, Masorti co-chair Bill Benjamin – whose organisation only joined the JLC recently – and Stephen Lewis and James Libson, who jointly represent the New Leadership Network, a group fostered by the JLC to groom future leaders.
"They are joined by previous JLC executive members Vivian Wineman (Board of Deputies), Gerald Ronson (Community Security Trust), Mick Davis (UJIA), Nigel Layton (World Jewish Relief) and Simon Hochhauser (United Synagogue)".
Wow. I hope you're all as excited as I am about this news. Notice anything, er, odd about this list? No?
WHAT ABOUT THE FACT THAT HALF THE POPULATION ISN'T REPRESENTED?
If there are any women on this council, we are yet to be told. Personally, I'd feel a great deal happier about the JLC if it were a lot more representative of this community.

COMMENTS

telegramsam

Wed, 11/03/2010 - 16:09

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A female representative or several would be truly welcome, Jenni. But surely no self-respecting woman would want to join this self-annointed club of the idle and rich. I think this motley crew suffer from the arrogance of wealth and they represent no one but themselves.]


allanlewis

Wed, 11/03/2010 - 16:26

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Perhaps more people under 40 would be nice, too?


Jenni Frazer

Wed, 11/03/2010 - 16:50

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It may be self-anointed but it's zeh ma yesh (what there is)- and I am not ready to say that the members are idle just because they are rich. In fact, I know the opposite to be true of many of the JLC members. That being said, yes, of course, to people under 40. But really, did no-one sit down and think through the implications of announcing new trustees, not one of whom is female? Are we really suggesting that no woman can command the respect of the community? The JLC has it in its hairy little paws to change this perception at a stroke. Get with the programme, guys.


telegramsam

Wed, 11/03/2010 - 16:59

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Hairy little paws? And I wonder what caused that…


telegramsam

Wed, 11/03/2010 - 17:01

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Another question: what does the JLC do? Or Bicom for that matter?


Jeremy Newmark JLC

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 10:27

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Jenny – this is hardly a reasonable critique. As you well know, JLC was not “full of itself” – this information was not generally released. It was provided on an advance basis to the JC at its own request, with the very clear caveat that as our Governance changes are still in progress these names only represent part of the picture. Three further trustees are to be elected from beyond our own Council of Membership and a group of Vice-Presidents are still to be appointed. This tranche of Trustees was elected from amongst the heads of our member organisations. The JLC has no ability to dictate to our member organisations who they select as their Chairpeople and thus their JLC representative. This new governance strcuture has been developed to put the legal and strategic control of the JLC firmly in the hands of the heads of our member organisations from whom we derive our mandate – thus removing powers from our individual members. This was largely in response to criticisms that you and others have previously made about the influence of such individuals. You can’t have it both ways – if we enhance our internal democracy we have to live with the results that it produces.
It is certainly fair to say that there is a broader communal problem, namely a lack of women at the lay helm of major communal charities – but unreasonable to lay the blame for that at the door of the JLC itself.


telegramsam

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 10:35

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Jeremy, what does the JLC actually do? And who anointed you lot anyway? What internal democracy? Democracy can work only within a transparent system. Is your internal system transparent?


Jonathan Hoffman

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 10:38

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The United Synagogue does not permit women to be Trustees (They can be Chairs of individual US shuls).

There is no halachic reason for this whatsoever. I have lobbied for change but got nowhere.

http://www.newjewishthought.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Shalom-@-Schu...

As Jeremy says, given that a woman could not be Chairman of the US, it is hardly reasonable Jenny for you to gun for the JLC.....


Jonathan Hoffman

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 10:51

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Ruth Deech and Barbara Goldstone were members of the previous JLC so the charge of unrepresentativeness hardly sticks.

Do you favour tokenism for women Jenny?


telegramsam

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 10:52

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Jonathan, that's actually a very good report you and the Soetendorps wrote. It's a pity it made no impact with the US Perhaps you should defect to Masorti or Reform.


telegramsam

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 10:53

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Doesn't Jenni spell her name mit an "i"?


Jonathan Hoffman

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 10:57

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sorry
Do you favour tokenism for women Jenni?


Jenni Frazer

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 11:01

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Well, Jeremi (oh, sorry, could I not be bothered to spell your name right?)it's not me who "can't have it both ways." It doesn't really matter how much constitutional jargon you quote about tranches of trustees and governance in progress. What you have ended up with is a group of people who are at the head of the community — and almost no women in that group to help to shape policy and the future of the community. Since it is apparently within the power of the JLC to bring people in on an ad personam basis, it ought to be looking for a better gender balance. I am not arguing for tokenism, just a recognition that this is the 21st century and that women ought to have a voice. If, however, the JLC is still an old boys' club by any other name, and that women are not heading communal organisations (apart from the US) because they are not rich enough, then that is indeed another problem. It is, by the way, a problem which doesn't afflict other communities in quite such a marked manner.


Yoni1

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 11:08

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Jonathan is right.

Obsessive counting of x- and y-chromosomes on every single body, committee, and panel is childish. What matters is the quality of the members (about which I have nil knowledge in this case).


Jenni Frazer

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 11:28

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Yoni: I think I have already said that I do have knowledge of the members and I respect many of them for the work that they do. I am not "obsessively counting x and y chromosomes." Just pointing out a glaring gap at the head of Anglo-Jewry. But then, from my perspective, I would say that, wouldn't I... and if, behind your pseudonym, you are a man, you don't need to be bothered — your representation is taken care of.


Yvetta

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 11:33

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It's not only in GB that there is a preponderance of men in these top leadership councils - in Australia, for example, women (with exceptions, I must emphasise) largely ghettoise themselves in the NCJW, which rarely seems to serve as a springboard to general communal office.


telegramsam

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 11:39

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I'm sure the Sheilas are allowed to have a few dry sherries at the NCJW


telegramsam

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 11:45

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The point is, Yoni, counting chromosomes doesn't matter. The point is that the JLC is an unelected and unaccountable body that purports to represent the interests of the community. Legally, if I am not mistaken, representing the interests of the wider community is the role of the Board of Deputies, which for all its faults is elected and which is accountable. The JLC is not a transparent body, so no one actually knows how it works, how it chooses its members and how its decisions are taken.


telegramsam

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 11:48

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When I say legally, I mean it gained official recognition from Parliament in the 1830s.


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 12:16

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Could Nigella Lawson be persuaded to join? She could also bake some nice cakes for the board members ( Jenny, is that a bit sexist? Sorry!!)

And how about Mel Phillips? She could certainly prove the point that there is a very intelligent Jewish woman out there.

But, I know, the answer to Jenny's gripe. Couldn't Vivian Wineman pretend that he is a woman and keep Jenny happy?


Yoni1

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 12:25

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Yoni is my actual name. Do you speak any Hebrew? If so, you should know that it's a masculine one.


Yoni1

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 12:29

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As anyone who'd read my post with any degree of care would have noticed, Spammy, I made no comment one way or another about the legal and representational characteristics of this body.
As to the BoD ... well, 'official' they may be, but I don't see them representing my interests as a Jew. They are craven and appeasing to the nth degree.


telegramsam

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 12:30

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You could be Yonit, for all we know.


telegramsam

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 12:32

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As I wrote, Yoni old thing, the Board has its faults. Indeed, they are legion, but they are democratic and accountable and if we feel they are not doing the job we want we can vote the rascals out (through our organisations and synagogues). The same cannot be said of the JLC.

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