Phil Rosenberg elected new president of Board of Deputies

Adrian Cohen will be senior vice-president for the next three years


Phil Rosenberg would become the youngest ever president of the Board of Deputies if elected (Photo: Board of Deputies)

Phil Rosenberg was elected on Sunday as the new president of the Board of Deputies after a marathon two-month campaign.

The 49th Board president and at 38, believed to be the youngest in its history, he will succeed Marie van der Zyl, who steps down next month as leader of the representative body after a maximum two terms in office.

Rosenberg, who works for a London public policy and communications company, is a former public affairs director of the Board, who now represents Brondesbury Synagogue as a deputy.

He defeated Board vice-president Amanda Bowman (Hampstead Synagogue), who headed its defence division for the past six years, its treasurer Michael Ziff (Maccabi GB) and former senior vice-president Sheila Gewolb (Cardiff United Synagogue). The voting figures have yet to be released.

Addressing the Board after his victory, Rosenberg made the shecheyanu blessing. “As president, I pledge to fight antisemitism, stand up for peace and security for Israel and the whole Middle East, defend our religious freedoms and celebrate our culture, and make our community and the Board of Deputies proud, inclusive and unified,” he said.

Under the banner of “Choose the future and make history”, his manifesto contained 43 pledges including the immediate recruitment of a new officer to tackle media misinformation. In his campaign, he said he believed that he had the strongest network of media, political, interfaith and diplomatic contacts of any of the candidates.

Deputies had a final opportunity to make up their minds at a last hustings at the Board’s plenary at JW3 in London, with polls opening at 3.30 and closing an hour and a half later. Close to 100 deputies attended in person and another 50 or so online; others among the 275-strong electorate had cast their vote earlier by post.

A number of deputies told the JC they had not decided who to vote for — or their order of preferences under the single transferable vote system — until the last minute.

Adrian Cohen (Highgate Synagogue), van der Zyl’s husband, was elected senior vice-president, while Andrew Gilbert (Movement for Reform Judaism) and Jeremy Michelson, (Manchester New, Great and Central Synagogue), who chairs the Board’s regional group, took the other two-vice presidential slots ahead of Denise Lester (South Hampstead United Synagogue) and Owen Power (York Liberal Community).

Ben Crowne (Bevis Marks Synagogue), who was elected unopposed as treasurer, completes the honorary officer team for the next triennial.

The new top table has a strong Labour complexion. Rosenberg was a Labour councillor in Camden, Cohen chairs Labour Friends of Israel and Gilbert is a supporter of the Jewish Labour Movement. Cohen and Gilbert chair the London Jewish Forum.

Former Board senior vice-president Laura Marks said that Rosenberg “ran a brilliant campaign. I hope he can inspire a new generation of young people to get involved in community leadership”.

But she added, “I can’t help but be surprised that in 2024 we’re facing an all male line-up. Our women need to step up.”

Veteran Board member Richard Cohen said, “Phil is a consummate professional campaigner and it showed. He is a young man in a hurry. He appeals to many shades of the political spectrum because of his energy and enthusiasm.”

Karen Newman, deputy for Liberal Judaism, paid tribute to van der Zyl, saying “There were so many things that were not easy for you and you managed to get through them”.

She said that the president had “got the balance right on Israel”, where there were many views within a “hugely diverse community” and also highlighted her efforts on behalf of refugees. “It is important for British Jews to say we care for other issues, and you allowed us to do that,” she said.

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