Senior Board of Deputies members oppose appointment of new chief executive

Senior members of the Board of Deputies are opposed to the appointment of a new chief executive until the outcome of merger talks with the Jewish Leadership Council is clear.

The Board is believed to have narrowed its search down to two names, with a further round of interviews due to take place today.

But former president Lionel Kopelowitz said: “I don’t support the idea of appointing a chief executive when the Board’s future as an independent organisation is uncertain and it doesn’t know whether it is going it alone or going into merger with the JLC.”

Other former officers voiced similar views at the Board’s plenary meeting in Glasgow last month.

The Board recruited a part-time interim chief of operations, Andrea Kelmanson, last May following the departure of chief executive Jon Benjamin. But Board president Vivian Wineman said this week that it was “difficult to run on an interim basis indefinitely”.

Shortly after the Board advertised for a new chief in February, the JLC announced that it was appointing its own interim head Simon Johnson permanently as chief executive.

But there is frustration within the Board at a perceived lack of progress since the merger was first publicly proposed last June.

Another senior deputy said: “Everyone says they are in favour of merger but nothing seems to be happening. One might have thought we’d be getting somewhere or it would be clear we’re not. This is dragging on and on.”

In the meantime, there ought to be an agreement between the JLC and Board to draw up demarcation lines between them, he suggested.

Some deputies believe that a likelier prospect than merger is for the JLC and Board to share premises when the Board finds an alternative to the Bloomsbury headquarters it has put up for sale.

A team of independent consultants has been asked — at a cost believed to be around £28,000 — to gauge reaction to unification with the JLC.

Last updated: 4:45am, April 11 2014