The contest to be the next president of the Board of Deputies began in earnest this week after a second candidate announced she would be standing in the election to choose a successor to Marie van der Zyl in the spring.
Amanda Bowman, who has been vice-president for six years, has declared her candidacy, following the Board’s former public affairs director Phil Rosenberg, who entered the ring last month.
As chair of the Board’s defence and group relations division, Bowman oversees the Board’s work against antisemitism and anti-Israel extremism.
A deputy for Hampstead (United) Synagogue since 2012, she has also been vice-chair of the Board’s communities division, chaired its social action group and the was its first gender equality champion.
She cites her experience in cross-communal advocacy, strategic communications and advancing positive interfaith relations.
Bowman said: “I fully understand the devastating impact of antisemitism and have been working hard to challenge it wherever it occurs, be that from the far-left or the far-right, on the streets, in the media or online. I’m a strong believer that positive engagement can yield results.”
She highlighted her work over the past three years with the Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan Police following the 2021 “convoy of hate through north-west London” during the previous Israel-Gaza conflict. “These efforts are clearly paying off given the number of charges authorised relating to potentially antisemitic hate crimes committed since October 7,” she said.
“More broadly, my other priorities will include celebrating and facilitating Jewish life, raising awareness and understanding of the Jewish community and our contributions to the UK [and] promoting positive Israel engagement.”
Bowman added that she would also focus on “going back to basics on deputy and communal engagement, and developing organisational resilience so that the Board can be in the best position possible for the upcoming triennium as well as future ones”.
A supporter of her campaign, who wished to remain anonymous said, “She's just the most solutionary of the
potential candidates. Nobody comes close to her experience leading on defence, be that leading the division through the very challenging Corbyn years or more recently with war in Israel and Gaza.”
Van der Zyl, who saw off three challengers when she was first elected in 2018, will relinquish the reins in June after serving a maximum two three-year terms in succession.
There is still plenty of time for other candidates to emerge ahead of the May poll.
Sheila Gewolb, a former vice-president, who stood for the presidency six years ago, is considering another run for the leadership of the communal representative body.
She said this week that she was still “making up my mind” and would be “watching how things develop”.
However, Edwin Shuker, who is in his second vice-presidential term and also stood six for the presidency six years ago, has ruled himself out.