Laura Marks: 'brave leaders change their mind'


Laura Marks has defended herself as a “brave, decisive leader” after earlier being accused of “flip-flopping” by one of her rivals to be president for Board of Deputies.

Alex Brummer – who is standing for the post along with Jonathan Arkush – had last week taken Ms Marks to task for originally announcing she would not contest the position and for joining a United Synagogue while at the same time representing the Reform movement on the Board.

But in a hustings organised by the Board and JC yesterday, Ms Marks, the Board’s senior vice-president, said, “I didn’t realise how much I wanted the presidency until I decided not to do it… The day when I said I am not going to do it I knew I made a bad decision. A brave leader changes her mind.”

Explaining her move to join Highgate United Synagogue last year, she said, “I work cross-communally. It’s what I do. But still people after seven years of cross-communal work who say she doesn’t mean it. So I mean it. I joined and I joined in."

She had not gone to “any old United Synagogue” but one which was “excellent at community building”, she said. “Lots of people belong to two synagogues,” she said. “I am proud of it and I have learned a huge amount from it.”

In a lively debate ahead of Sunday's election, the three current vice-presidents of the Board fielded questions from the public on security, antisemitism, Israel advocacy, Jewish schools and reaching out to younger Jews.

While Mr Brummer feared that faith schools could lead to “ghettoisation”, Mr Arkush said that he would defend them “to the hilt”.

But both disputed Ms Marks’s belief that the presidency was a “full-time job”.

Mr Arkush, who must stand down as vice-president after serving two consecutive terms, revealed that he had asked the other two candidates to stand as vice-presidents as well because "the three of us got on very well as a team".

The event can be watched here.

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