Laura Marks will not stand for Board of Deputies president


Senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies Laura Marks has sprung a surprise by saying she will not be a candidate to become its next president.

She had been expected to enter the contest to succeed Vivian Wineman at May's elections.

But the Mitzvah Day founder told a meeting of Reform deputies that she would not be standing for the presidency but instead seek a second term as a vice-president.

Ms Marks said today that she had been "weighing up what's important in my life" and wanted to focus on "the things I really care about - interfaith relationships, community cohesion, a just world."

There was, she explained, "a big job to be done in the Board of Deputies and a lot of issues to be faced over the next two years on where that organisation is going. I am happy to be part of that, but not at the expense of my other agenda. You can't do everything."

If she had become president, she would have had to reduce her involvement with Mitzvah Day.

"I have to focus on the agenda where I know I can make a difference," she said.

She had even considered "walking away from the Board - but I think I have a responsibility to continue the work I have been doing."

As she represents the Movement for Reform Judaism on the Board - and deputies representing Orthodox constituencies still form the largest bloc - some had wondered whether the odds on the Board electing a Progressive president were too long. She recently took out membership of a United Synagogue.

But Ms Marks, who was recently appointed an OBE for her interfaith work, said religious background had not influenced her decision not to stand. "I am not partisan, I am committed to the whole community," she said.

The Board has only once been headed by a woman president, Jo Wagerman.

A Reform movement source said that Ms Marks "continues to do an outstanding job as senior vice-president and has been highly impactful representing the entire community. We support her candidacy for a second term. This decision also shows wisdom to be able to focus on tasks and matters close to her heart.”

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