Leadership Council role re-think

By Simon Rocker, February 24, 2011

JNF UK has refused to quell speculation that it is reconsidering its membership of the Jewish Leadership Council.

Rumours have been circulating that the JNF is on the verge of leaving the 30-member council and has membership dues outstanding.

But asked to confirm whether the charity intended to remain on the council, a JNF spokesman said this week that it had no comment.

A spokesperson for the JLC said: "We are in discussion with JNF on a number of matters, including subscriptions."

JNF UK chairman Samuel Hayek was among the strongest critics of the JLC last month for planning a mission to the West Bank, postponed after disquiet from the Israeli embassy.

The row over the trip led to renewed debate over the role of the council, with Lord Levy resigning as one of its vice-presidents, in the belief that it had expanded beyond its original remit.

But the JLC, which is comprised of heads of major charities, synagogue bodies and a select group of prominent Jewish figures, has unveiled plans to improve its public relations and better explain its work to the Jewish community.

JLC member Lucian Hudson, chairman of Liberal Judaism, who has been reviewing its PR in recent months, said; "We need to be more open and proactive and showcase much better what we do – particularly in how we complement the work of the Board of Deputies and other Jewish organisations."

The council expects to engage a new PR agency shortly, while Mr Hudson, a former head of communications at the Foreign Office, will head an internal task force to advise on how to bring the JLC "out of the shadows".

While the Board of Deputies had a "longstanding role that needs to be respected," Mr Hudson said, "we need the JLC and the people who make it up. One without the other would not be enough.

"Regrettably, the JLC's achievements do not necessarily speak for themselves and there are some things we need to get right, which we have not, up till now," he said.

Last updated: 2:18pm, February 24 2011