Brit critic is ejected from Board position

Rebecca Steinfeld

Rebecca Steinfeld

An Oxford student has been removed from her position on the Board of Deputies after she wrote an article calling for a ban on circumcision.

New West End Synagogue, a United Synagogue congregation, revoked Rebecca Steinfeld's seat at the Board as an under-35s observer after she referred to circumcision as "male genital mutilation" in an article she co-authored in the Guardian last week.

Ms Steinfeld said: "I am disappointed by the response of the New West End Synagogue and the Board of Deputies to my participating in a debate on an important issue that has drawn the attention of people from many backgrounds.

"All voices have an important place in our community and should be heard.

"The Board of Deputies, as a representative organisation of all British Jews, has a duty to allow for the free expression of a spectrum of views, rather than merely being an echo chamber for those in agreement with one another."

The postgraduate - who is writing a thesis on whether Israel has an ethnically selective policy to lower the non-Jewish birthrate - has previously described shechitah as "awful".

Under-35 observers, who do not have a vote but can speak at Board meetings, were introduced two years ago to involve younger people in its work .

Danny Stone, the under-35 representative on the Board's executive, said that synagogues needed to research deputies and observers before nominating them.

"It is incumbent on all deputies and their organisations to reach a full understanding of their mutual expectations," he said.

He added: "It's unfair of Rebecca to criticise the Board because there were people at Sunday's plenary session who were ready and willing to debate her views and it wasn't the Board who expelled her."

    Last updated: 2:20pm, June 23 2011