Board dismisses claims of ‘veering left’

By Simon Rocker, May 31, 2013

An Orthodox newspaper this week claimed that the Board of Deputies was swinging towards the Progressive community following the appointment of its interim chief operations Andrea Kelmanson.

Hamodia ran a front page story headed “Board of Deputies veers to the left”.

The newspaper wrote: "Concerns have been expressed that if the majority of the leadership of the organisation has Progressive leanings, which is the case with the current vice-president and recently appointed interim chief of operations, then this will weaken the Board's position when addressing religious issues."

But Board president Vivian Wineman responded: “Regarding the headline, all that can be said is that our senior vice president is a member of a Reform synagogue and has always made a robust defence of all Jewish practices -- and we and the community are proud to have her as part of our honorary officers."

He said that the Board liaised with the Charedi community “more closely than before”.

Hamodia quoted Rabbi Avraham Pinter, a trustee of Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, as voicing concern that “our communal organisations are being taken over by members of the Progressive community”.

Federation of Synagogues president Alan Finlay also told the newspaper that there were concerns about the “growing influence” of the Progressive community but added that the Board’s work in defending brit milah should be recognised.

In a recent JC article, former Board vice-president Jerry Lewis claimed that the Reform movement was “trying to assert itself and throw out the careful balance on which the Board depends”.

Meanwhile, Board leaders are set to launch a consultation with deputies over a possible merger with the Jewish Leadership Council.

The JC revealed a few weeks ago that unification was one option on the table composed on a possible two-chamber body.

More details of the consultation are expected to be released early next week.

Last updated: 10:17am, June 3 2013