Board of Deputies to leave Jewish Leadership Council

Under new plan, Board would lose automatic trustee seat at the council but its president would become a vice-president of JLC


Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl (second right) with her officer team on its solidarity mission to Israel this week

The Board of Deputies, which helped to found the Jewish Leadership Council more than 20 years ago, is planning to give up its membership of the body.

The JLC has proposed to remove the automatic seat on its trustee body for the president of the Board of Deputies — although the vote by the JLC’s council to ratify the proposal which was due to take place last week has been put back.

In a realignment of the relationship between the organisations, the Board’s president would become one of the advisory vice-presidents of the JLC, while the JLC would be granted observer status at the Board’s plenary meetings.

But the prospective loss of the Board’s trustee seat on the JLC, which recognised the Board’s communal representative role, has not pleased all deputies. with one telling the JC in January that it reflected “an underlying lack of confidence” in the Board’s leadership on the part of the JLC.

Another deputy commented this week that the proposed change would mark "the slow decline to irrelevance of the Board. Unless it bucks up its ideas - and soon - it might as well shut up shop. Perhaps it's already reached that point "

A Board spokesman said in January, “We fully appreciate that members of the Jewish community do not wish to see communal leadership engaging publicly in these types of disputes when far bigger issues should be demanding our energy.”

The JLC has previously explained that reserving a trusteeship for the representative of just one organisation was an “anomaly” and that the change would not affect the way the organisations worked together.

In papers prepared for the Board’s plenary on Sunday, its president Marie van der Zyl has now revealed that the two bodies were “establishing a new framework to co-ordinate major strategic directions of both organisations”.

The incoming Board president — who is due to be elected in May — would be a vice-president of the JLC and a JLC trustee would be invited to be an observer at Board plenaries, she explained.

“In this new framework, the Board president will no longer be an automatic trustee of the JLC, and the Board of Deputies will cease to be a JLC member,” she informed deputies.

While JLC vice-presidents attend meetings, they do not have a vote.

The JLC said this week its council would be voting online “within the next few weeks as there is another resolution to discuss”.

The proposed new arrangement would seem to rule out any immediate unification of the two organisations, which had been pursued in talks from 2013 to 2015.

Four years ago calls for union were renewed by former Board president Jonathan Arkush, who envisaged the JLC coming under the umbrella of the Board.

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