Race is on to lead the Board

The contest to be the next presidency of the Board of Deputies has begun after the former president of the United Synagogue, Peter Sheldon, announced his candidacy for the elections next May.

Henry Grunwald, the current president, will step down next summer after completing his second three-year term, the maximum allowed.

Mr Sheldon, 66, who joined the Board two years ago as a deputy for the United Synagogue, said: “A number of leading members of the community, and particularly within the Board of Deputies itself, thought it would be a good idea for me to put my candidacy forward.

“I’m going to be formulating a detailed platform. But I’ve already indicated that the first thing to do is to establish where the Board stands in relation to the leadership of the community and its relation with the Jewish Leadership Council. I want to bring the JLC and Board closer together.”

As president of the United Synagogue, Mr Sheldon served on the JLC, which Mr Grunwald was instrumental in establishing in 2003 and currently chairs.

Other potential challengers for the Board’s leadership have yet to declare their hand. One of the three vice-presidents, Flo Kaufman, who chairs the board of governors of the European Jewish Congress but who, constitutionally, must relinquish her current Board position next year, said: “I haven’t made known my intentions. I’m keeping my options open.”

Paul Edlin, a second vice-president, said a bid for the presidency is “not something I am considering”.

Vivian Wineman, who topped the vice-presidential poll two years ago and whose name is also being mooted among deputies, said: “It’s awfully early to be talking about these things.”

Jerry Lewis, a former vice-president of the Board and a deputy for more than 30 years, said that he had been “approached by many deputies hoping I would consider standing” but he declined to say whether he would.

He said he was “aghast” that speculation had begun over Mr Grunwald’s successor.

    Last updated: 2:57pm, May 13 2008