The JC

Letters to the editor, March 22 2024

Gary Mond and the KLBD


Gary Mond (Photo: JNA)

March 20, 2024 12:50

Gary Mond argues that other organisations have taken over a lot of the work of the Board of Deputies and therefore the Board is irrelevant today (What’s the point of the Board of Deputies in 2024?, 15 March). Much of its advocacy work occurs behind closed doors and cannot always be mentioned in the press. Since October 7 Board honorary officers and staff have been active in fighting antisemitism on a broad front, meeting officials and ministers who are not accessible to other organisations. The Board works closely with the Jewish Leadership Council in this, and other issues.

The JLC represents the large charities and Welfare organisations, but the Board represents the ordinary "Jew in the pew" and, increasingly, the Jew outside of the pew. While it is true that the Charedi community chooses not to be represented by the Board the door is always open for them to come into our broad tent.

It has to be a broad tent as English speaking Jewry has been polarising and fracturing both religiously and politically. Therefore if it is to fulfil its function as the main advocacy body for ordinary Jews it has to balance between competing ideologies concerning the future of British Jewry.

Gary claims there is an intolerance towards those of conservative leanings. I don't think that it is true, but surely you stay and fight for your beliefs rather than exit in a huff. When I became a deputy in 2015 I was told that the Board was London-centric and didn't care about the regions. I fought hard for a staff member to be based in the regions and we succeeded in getting one. Since then Jewish Representative Councils across the country have felt much more connected with each other and to the Board. In the last six months they have stated that they know that the Board is there for them as and when needed. That is the way in which changes happen for the better.

I am glad the National Jewish Assembly has proved to be a fine debating society, but we need the Board of Deputies to provide the overarching leadership for ordinary Jews. If the community fractures into a myriad of groups this enables extremists of the left and right to gain credence for unrepresentative splinter groups of Jews who claim authenticity as representing the community. I hope that Gary et al will consider becoming deputies again and making their voices heard within the Board.

Jeremy Michelson

Chair of the Regional Deputies Assembly and Council of the Board of Deputies

Prestwich, Manchester

Gary Mond is right to point out that many of the roles that the Board assumed for itself have been taken over much more successfully by new groups that have sprung up, precisely because the Board was increasingly ineffective in answering the communities’ needs.

For some years now, the United Synagogue, the UK’s largest synagogal body, has been sending decreasing numbers of deputies because fewer congregants want the role. Talented, successful people, including one friend of mine who left after one triennium, resent giving their time to an organisation that claims to be representative, only to find that their views are ignored unless they accord with those of the handful of honorary officers who hold power and make the decisions.

The Board increasingly resembles a branch of the Labour Party, lately opining on controversial matters which have nothing to do with Jewish concerns.

In recent years it has been failing to give Israel its unconditional support, as mainstream Anglo-Jewry wants, sometimes being openly critical, which has given succour to our enemies,

Who can forget the coarse tweets it put out in English and Hebrew calling for a newly elected visiting cabinet minister in 2022 to go home because he is unwanted here, drawing an unprecedented public rebuke by the left-leaning Israeli president.

The Board has become a wasteful anachronism in 2024, and should be gracefully wound up. The “voluntary” donations which have been its primary source of funding, could then be put to far better use.

James R Windsor

Ilford, Essex

Gary Mond is right that, because of the changing complexion of the British Jewish community, the Board is not as representative as it was 20 or 30 years ago. He is also right that many organisations are fulfilling roles that were performed by the Board in the past – and doing better at it. The stand-out success is Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is everything one would want a Jewish defence organisation to be while remaining strictly within the law. And, sadly, he is right that in some aspects the Board leadership has lost its way in recent years: most British Jews do not, actually, subscribe to the fashionable narrative of critical race theory and intersectionality.

Most important of all, in these fraught times, is the stance on Israel. It is not enough, as the Board is, laudably, doing, to demonstrate and lobby for the release of the tragic hostages. The Board should be supporting, powerfully and unambiguously, the necessary campaign of the IDF to reduce the military capability of Hamas and its many allies in Gaza to the point where they can never again be a threat to the lives of Israeli citizens. The day of the “critical friend” of Israel is over.

Where he is wrong is in dismissing the genuine democratic basis of the Board. Of course it isn’t perfect: what is, least of all in politics? But it is far more democratically representative than any of the rival communal bodies he mentions. Always remember, Deputies are elected, not appointed: no other communal umbrella organisation can say that. And the diversity of opinion in the Board is so reflective of that in our community that it’s a real-life example of “Two Jews, three opinions”!

Gary claims there is no longer a place for conservatives on the Board. I am an Herutnik Neo-Conservative. I have been proud to serve my shul as Deputy for a generation and will continue to do so as long as they vote for me. I disagree openly and passionately with my fellow-Deputies who promote an intersectional, Marxist, non-Zionist Jewish way that is diametrically opposed to my own: but I recognise and respect the fact that they have as rightful a place on the Board as I do. I call the Board my ship of a thousand splinters: and I am honoured to be among its crew,

Richard Cooper

Midhurst, West Sussex

Gary Mond did indeed express the view that “all civilisation” is “at war with Islam”. But Marie van der Zyl and Michael Wegier failed to state the context (This is the point of the Board of Deputies, 15 March, It was after the appalling Islamist attacks in Paris in November 2015 when 130 were killed and 416 injured, nearly 100 critically. Given the strength of feeling, only the neophyte social media archaeologists on the Board – validated by the President - could possibly make Mond’s failure to add the three letters “ism” into a hanging offence. Especially as Mond was responding to his own post which called the attackers “fanatical Muslim terrorists” – an unimpeachable, accurate description.

Jonathan Hoffman



It would be a great help if the KLBD didn't wait until the last moment, as last year, to let us know what "ordinary" products (tea, coffee, sugar etc) may be used over Pesach. These can then be bought from regular supermarkets, hopefully helping with the exorbitant cost of this very expensive time.

Ruth Temerlies


It was good to read something as lighthearted and to the point as Claire Calman’s article on hitting the big 6-0 (I’ve just turned six-oh, JC2, 15 March).

My youngest son is my go-to IT expert, and has the endearing habit of telling me, from his lofty height of 6’4”, “Now, Mum...(heavy pause)...I’ve explained this to you before. You said you understood.”

To which my only reply is “Huh, I had to teach you how to use a spoon!”

I now also have the delight of 8 grandchildren with whom no doubt I will have the same conversation. Claire has my sympathies.

Louise Pearlman

London NW4

March 20, 2024 12:50

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