Laura marks her Board card for May polls

By Simon Rocker, February 9, 2012
Laura Marks

Laura Marks

Laura Marks, head of a commission to encourage more women to lead the Jewish community, will stand for election as vice-president of the Board of Deputies in May.

But controversy was brewing this week over a rule change proposed by a rival candidate, which would effectively scupper her bid.

Ms Marks, founder of Mitzvah Day and head of the commission on women set up by the Jewish Leadership Council, was elected as a deputy for the Movement for Reform Judaism only last month.

But Jerry Lewis, one of the board's three vice-presidents, who is likely to seek re-election for a further three years, is trying to win support for an amendment which would prevent deputies standing for senior office unless they had served a minimum of two years on the Board.

Mr Lewis insisted that his move was "nothing to do with [Laura Marks's] campaign", but with a different proposal to give under-35 observers at the Board the vote.

So far there is no challenger to president Vivian Wineman, who can serve another three years.

Senior vice-president Jonathan Arkush and treasurer Laurence Brass, both seeking a return to office, are widely expected to run for the presidency in 2015.

May's elections are thus set to focus on the vice-presidency, with the third vice-president Paul Edlin stepping down after a maximum consecutive six years.

Ms Marks explained that since the commission was trying to encourage women to "step up to leadership, I can't tell people what they ought to be doing if I am not prepared to do it."

Likely to join her at the hustings is the vice-chairman of the Board's international division, Alex Brummer.

City Editor of the Daily Mail and a JC columnist, he believed his international experience and high-level contacts would be an asset for the Board.

But he had "one reservation" in view of the Board's campaign to encourage more young and women deputies. "I wouldn't want to stand if it meant we were not going to get broader diversity," he said.

Former vice-president Flo Kaufmann, rumoured to be considering a comeback, said: "A number of people have asked me to stand but I have no plans to at the moment."

Danny Stone, an under-35s deputy who had also been thought to be considering a pitch for the vice-presidency, has ruled himself out for family reasons.

Last updated: 12:47pm, February 9 2012