Three of Anglo-Jewry’s leading figures have received an aliyah of a different kind — elevation to the House of Lords as part of a group of new working peers selected by Downing Street.
The Times associate editor and JC columnist Daniel Finkelstein was made a Conservative peer. The new Lord Finkelstein, who is also a JC board member, was the Tories’ head of policy during John Major’s premiership, and has continued to provide informal advice to senior party figures.
He is a friend of Prime Minister David Cameron and previously shared an office with Chancellor George Osborne while working for William Hague when he was party leader.
He said becoming a lord would be “fascinating as well as a big responsibility”.
Joining him on the Tory benches will be former Jewish Care trustee Howard Leigh. President of Westminster Synagogue, he is a former Conservative Party treasurer who has made donations to the party totalling more than £200,000, both in his own name and through his corporate finance business.
He also runs the Tories’ “Leaders’ Group”, which provides party supporters with the opportunity to have dinner with Mr Cameron in return for a £50,000 annual membership fee.
Mr Leigh has a substantial record of supporting Jewish communal groups and is currently chair of Jewish Care’s Business Group and a trustee of the Jerusalem Foundation in the UK.
Finchley United Synagogue chairman Jon Mendelsohn will become a Labour peer. A former Labour Friends of Israel chair, he co-founded LLM Communications, was an adviser to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s chief fundraiser.
In that role, Mr Mendelsohn became embroiled in a scandal over party donations and had a high-profile dispute with businessman David Abrahams.
The father-of-four is married to Nicola Mendelsohn, head of Facebook’s European operations.
The 30 new peers were appointed following nominations from leaders of the three main political parties.
The presence of so many party donors, aides and lobbyists on the list led Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott to claim some of the new additions would “pollute” parliament.