The Board of Deputies is to establish a ‘Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish Community’ to investigate prejudice faced by black British Jews and other Jews of colour.
The commission, which will be chaired by New Statesman Political Editor Stephen Bush, hopes to conclude in six months with a report detailing measures to promote inclusivity and diversity within the community.
Black British Jews and Jews of colour will be invited to give evidence about their experiences within the community to “build a picture” of the challenges they face.
The commission will then engage with “partners in synagogues, schools, youth movements, cultural spaces and other Jewish institutions to discuss best practice and challenges, and seek to overcome them”.
Once recommendations are shared with the community, the commission “will review the extent to which the community has stepped up to the challenge”.
The Board said that while it welcomed the “outpouring of solidarity” from Jewish institutions following the murder of George Floyd in the US and the global 'Black Lives Matter' protests, "this must now be matched by a willingness in the community to learn and strive to become a more welcoming environment for its own black members.”
The Board outlined the issues that the commission will investigate, as well instances of racism that black Jews face within the Jewish community.
In a statement, the Board said: “Over the last week, we have heard from a range of Black British Jews that our own communal spaces are not always welcoming.
“We have heard complaints about being stared at in synagogues,” it continued, “being asked probing questions, being given a hard time by security at communal buildings, facing racism in Jewish schools, a lack of racial diversity in Jewish leadership positions and even heartbreaking prejudice in the context of seeking another Jewish partner.”
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: “While we as a community must show solidarity and seek to change our whole society, there are things we still need to fix in our community.
“The Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish Community will seek to listen to black British Jews to understand the prejudice and barriers that exist in our own community and work with all our partner institutions to make sure that there is zero tolerance in our community for racism of any kind,” she continued.
Stephen Bush, who will chair the commission, said that he was “honoured to have been invited to chair this important and timely initiative for the Jewish community, with the support of the Board of Deputies.”
“Together with black British Jews from across the community,” he continued, “we will be able to explore the issues at the heart of the Black-Jewish experience.”
“I invite black British Jews to come forward with their points of view so we can get this process started,” Mr Bush said.