Board of Deputies leaders have moved to reassure grass-roots members that a merger with the Jewish Leadership Council is not a “done deal” as they embark on an extensive consultation over the plans.
The broad outlines of a unified organisation, revealed by the JC in recent weeks, were presented to deputies at its last plenary meeting.
In a letter, the Board’s officers reiterated that deputies would have the final say on whether any union with the JLC goes ahead. They wrote: “There is clearly some interest already in the benefits that one joint body could bring to the community in terms of having one clear voice speaking out on behalf of the community.”
But there were also “some clear areas of concern and confusion regarding the exact nature of the JLC, their history and their mandate”.
Board leaders stressed that “the leadership of any organisation claiming to represent the community must be democratically elected by and fully accountable to it”.
Under the proposals, a combined body would consist of two chambers, one representing the heads of Jewish organisations, the other made up of delegates elected by synagogues and other groups.
A president would be jointly elected by them — or even, it has been suggested, by a community-wide poll. He or she would have the power to pick their cabinet team, subject to ratification by the two houses.
The proposals emerged from talks over the past year conducted by a small committee, co-chaired by Leo Noe on behalf of the JLC and Adam Dawson for the Board. According to the committee, “operational efficiency, common sense and community unity all point towards a future with one organisation”.
But Board leaders have indicated their willingness to look at “alternative models”. President Vivian Wineman said he was “guardedly optimistic” about the outcome of the consultation.