Website call for total overhaul of Board of Deputies

By Simon Rocker, April 11, 2012
Verber:  change

Verber: change

Nearly two thirds of the members of the Board of Deputies are over the age of 60, and more than a quarter over 70, according to a new online campaign for change within British Jewry's main representative body.

The group of "young professionals, older professionals, volunteers, charity workers, youth movement workers and students" behind the Changing the Board website say that the Board "cannot remain a Sunday morning club for the select few".

They observe that nearly half of deputies are serving their third or more three-year term, while more than 10 per cent have been on it for 20 or more years.

Although there are more women than men in the British Jewish community, barely one in three deputies is a woman -64 out of 260.

Calling for "revolution, but without the blood", the group say they want to work within the existing framework to produce a more representative body.

"It is not about smashing the authorities or calling for the Board to be dismantled," said one of the group, Richard Verber, himself a deputy and the leadership training director of the Union of Jewish Students.

"Part of the goal is to encourage many more younger deputies to join. It's not about saying goodbye to older people but we need to complement some of the wisdom with new ideas.

"You have been getting people who have been on it for 20, 30, 40 years and that can't be healthy."

He said the aim was not only to bring new faces to the Board but also to move away from the "mind-numbing" debates that frustrate many at monthly Sunday meetings.

"We want the Board to be seen as a dynamic place putting forward policies that can affect change in the community," he said.

Last updated: 2:04pm, April 11 2012