And the UK's bottom Jew is...

By David Aaronovitch, June 5, 2008

Shunned by the JC Power 100, at least I’m not on the list of the 10 least influential people in the community

Each week last month I scanned the JC Power 100 list. I wasn’t in 60-100. The next week I wasn’t in 30-60. And finally I wasn’t in 1-30. For those slower readers, allow me to summarise by saying that I therefore wasn’t anywhere in the top 100 Jews or influencers of Jewish life in Britain. Which makes you wonder what I’m doing at the bottom of this page at all. Just a hang-over from the Ned Temko days, I suppose.

Oh yes, most of the other people who occupy this slot were in the list. Melanie was there, so was Jonathan, and Danny had shot up to number 11.

Wormwood! There was nothing that could sugar this bitter pill of perceived influencelessness, not even the knowledge that the constructors of this pernicious register had missed out such obvious power-brokers in the New Pale of Settlement as the Mayor of Radlett and the Chief Executive of Hertfordshire County Council. I wasn’t even in the “Ten to watch”.

I was moaning about this to some Jew or other, who replied that he had a friend who was miffed by his own inexplicable omission, and phoned up the authorities, to be told that he had in fact come in at around 250.

Extraordinary! 250 is a long way to go, and it occurred to me that it wasn’t impossible that the full, unpublished, list actually included every single one of us. Which meant that there must be, somewhere, a catalogue of the 10 least influential Jews, or people who had made no contribution whatsoever — one way or another — to Jewish life in Britain.

Well, readers, I was right. A sub-committee of the original selection panel had been beavering away at the edge of insignificance. A panel comprising Rabbi Lionel Blue, Rabbi Victor Black, Rabbi Shlomo Green and Rabbi Mordecai O’Flynn had convened and, after much agonising (mostly over what refreshment to take at lunch-time), had agreed on the JC Register of Bottom Jews of Britain. They had also jotted down on a scrap of paper the names of 10 people under no circumstances to give a second thought to, but they lost it.

The sub-committee (they told me) was not rewarding the do-gooding schmucks who make the sandwiches at synagogue events, or have nothing better to do with their time than to hang around after meetings in the hope of saying something rude about the JC. Such people are too significant. No, they were looking for those who either had no discernible vision at all for Jewish life in this country, or else an obviously stupid one, and who wielded just about no influence upon Jewish (or indeed practically any other kind of) life.

In fact, this turns out to be the second year that the Bottom Jews have been nominated, and in 2008 there are five new entrants to replace the three who (we presume) died and the two whose names the panel just couldn’t recall. Naturally, all the Bottom Jews are male.

I can reveal that they are (in reverse order):

10. As last year, Professor Geoffrey Alderman.

9. Overlooked in 2007, and therefore included precisely because he was so easily overlooked, Rabbi Damdin Ukhbayar, 107, of the Mongolian Synagogue, Hendon, just under the fly-over.

8. Solly Perreira, 72, chairman, treasurer and secretary of Sunderland branch of Jews for Jesus.

7. Max Mosley.

6. Professor Jacqueline Gilligan, 56. Founder of the breakaway Even More Independent faction of the Independent Jewish Voices.

5. Gary Sheinwald of Pinner. Now 16, Gary is good at PE. And that’s all. OK. So he’s in with a shout for representing Britain in triathlon at the Beijing Olympics, but his maths GCSE was a catastrophe. Not like his sister Natasha, who got 8 A stars and is going to Cambridge. Have you seen his trousers? Any lower and he’d be a mohel’s sandwich-board.

Still, that would get him off this list.

4. Morry Rosenberg, 67, of Elstree. Routinely left sitting in the dark in front of a blank TV screen by his wife, Greta, who forgets that he’s there and switches everything off before retiring to bed alone. Morry’s influence doesn’t extend as far as his own living-room, let alone the Jewish community.

3. Bozo Birnbaum, 41, pointless heir to the stocking fortune and recreational skier. Married a Japanese model. Enough said.

2. Angus McFadden of the Old Lighthouse, Muckle Flugga, Shetland, has never met a Jew in all his 60 years, and doesn’t care if he never meets one. On the other hand, he’s not that bothered if he does.

And finally, at number one: Ben Rich. Public-affairs professional and chair of the JC Power List. A man who tries to big himself up by adding the word “senior” to his otherwise unimpressive moniker. But who, in their right minds, will ever pay attention to anything that this man says? Not me, Moishe.

Last updated: 4:21pm, June 5 2008