The Jewish community has faced down hate with dignity and determination

The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews reflects on a difficult year for Israel and the Jewish diaspora


President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, shakes hands with His Majesty the King (Credit: Board of Deputies)

January 03, 2024 15:35

For many British Jews, what has happened since October 7th will define 2023. The hideous Hamas terror attacks, followed by the surge in antisemitism here, have deeply affected every one of us.

But we have also seen our community come together, facing down hate in this country with dignity and determination. Whether via a rally in Trafalgar Square, vigils in London and Manchester, online information events for the community, guides to those experiencing difficulties at work, or leading the calls for media organisations to describe Hamas as terrorists, the Board of Deputies has been at the heart of such efforts. In January we will continue our twice-weekly vigils in the heart of Westminster, and I am sure that politicians and members of the community will continue to join us.

Despite the surge in antisemitism, our community is a strong and integral part of British life. This year we hosted a succah at the Conservative Party conference, with the Prime Minister and many other politicians coming to learn about the festival. I was delighted to both attend the Coronation and lead a delegation to petition His Majesty, as is the Board’s right as a privileged body of the Crown. It was also a pleasure to arrange an event at Bevis Marks, Britain’s oldest synagogue, featuring a discussion between renowned historian Simon Sebag Montefiore and the Archbishop of Canterbury. And it was an honour to co-host a Chanukah celebration in the heart of our nation’s Parliament.

This coming year I believe the Board, and the community, will have many further opportunities to make it clear to all  we are British, we are Jewish and we are proud.

Marie van der Zyl OBE is President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews

January 03, 2024 15:35

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive