The Board of Deputies’ Commission on Racial Inclusivity will present its findings in a report published by January 2021, according to a new roadmap outlining the commission’s scope and timetable.
The commission, which is chaired by New Statesman Political Editor Stephen Bush, was established on June 8 following the killing of George Floyd in the United States and global protests highlighting racism and discrimination.
The Board said that the commission, which has spent the past month gathering evidence from within the Jewish community to determine which areas should fall under its purview, was designed to “promote racial inclusivity in the British Jewish community, with a particular focus on anti-black prejudice”.
The commission will examine issues relating to the representation of black Jews, Jews of colour and Mizrachi Jews in Jewish professional, lay and rabbinical leadership positions, as well as their visibility in Jewish media and the extent to which Jewish communal organisations represent their concerns.
It will also investigate the accountability of Jewish leaders, rabbis, rabbinical courts and the conversion process.
The commission will also be looking into how Jewish spaces can be made more welcoming and racially inclusive, and will be investigating education, training and broader attitudes towards race within the Jewish community.
The Board said that as part of the five-phase process, it will hold “specific oral evidence” sessions from black Jews, Jews of colour and Mizrachis, and will also be inviting written evidence from Jews with black partners and those who work in Jewish spaces.
Testimony from children is also being “actively” encouraged, with a safeguarding protocol designed to support them and their anonymity while doing so.
The commission will also approach Jewish denominations, schools and other institutions to discuss findings that emerge from its evidence-gathering process.
The commission aims to have draft recommendations prepared in November and to present the full report in January.
Commission Chair Stephen Bush said: “No project of this kind has ever been undertaken, so there is no clear roadmap to follow, but with the guidance of many passionate people who have come forward we have created a platform that will assist our work in making the Jewish community an unequivocally antiracist environment, that is more welcoming and inclusive to black Jews, non-black Jews of colour and Mizrachi Jews.”
Board President Marie van der Zyl commended the “energy, enthusiasm and commitment” that Mr Bush had brought to designing a “pioneering process that will help our community to fight racism and become a more welcoming space”.