Mazeltov! Board President has big Jewish wedding of the year

Board of Deputies’ President Marie van der Zyl marries Labour activist Adrian Cohen at West London Synagogue


In Anglo-Jewry’s simchah of the year, Board of Deputies’ President Marie van der Zyl has married Adrian Cohen, a prominent Labour activist who played a key role in her successful 2018 election leadership campaign.

Rabbi David Mitchell officiated at the wedding at West London Synagogue, the flagship synagogue for the Reform movement, on Sunday.

“We are very happy to say we married this week, in the company of close family and friends,” the bride told the JC after the ceremony. “We are grateful for all those who wish us well on this new and exciting chapter of our lives.”

Following the chupah, there was a small reception in the company of the happy couple’s close family and friends at Tony Page’s elegant Island Grill restaurant, facing the Lancaster Gate entrance to Hyde Park.

The service and the music — provided by the Mancunian folk-soul singer JJ Hodari — were described as “beautiful” by guests, while the speeches were “loving and humorous”.
The wedding was organised with aplomb by Suzy Richman and Nicole Peppi from Getting This Done.

The couple are blessed with five children between them. Ms van der Zyl’s two daughters are under 18, and Mr Cohen’s children are 21, 23 and 25.

Also at the wedding were the President’s 77-year-old mother, Szusanne Kaye, who posed for pictures with Mr Cohen’s stepmother, Jean Levison Cohen, 82. “Our fathers have unfortunately passed away, and Adrian’s mother died when he was 18,” said Ms van der Zyl, who is the second female president in the Board’s history.

After the ceremony, at which the bride wore an understated, white dress with a shortened train and a cape rather than a veil, the wedding party left the synagogue in a classic red double-decker London bus for Tony Page’s stunning Island Grill Glatt kosher restaurant.

There, guests tucked into an £18-a-head starter of salmon tartare with avocado and artichoke crisp, followed by a traditional wedding main course of roast ribeye with Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes.

Pudding was apple tart with custard ice cream. Neither the main nor dessert is on the regular menu at the kosher eatery, where main courses cost between £24 and £54 and desserts from £12 to £15.

The happy couple shares more than love for one another. There are parallels aplenty in their biographies, too. Both are originally from Essex, both are lawyers, and they were among the communal representatives selected to be on Labour’s Antisemitism Advisory Board, set up last year.

Mr Cohen co-chairs the London Jewish Forum, which represents Jewish interests to London government, and is a trustee of legal NGO Reprieve. He is lay chair of Labour Friends of Israel.

And this year the banking and finance law solicitor has won more than employment lawyer Ms van der Zyl’s hand in marriage. In May, he was woken up in the middle of the night after he unexpectedly won a seat on Camden Council.

Just three weeks into office, however, he stood down due to “personal circumstances”. Ms van der Zyl is not a member of a political party.

At the Board, where she was re-elected last year, Ms van der Zyl is a deputy for the Jewish Lads and Girls Brigade, Mr Cohen for Highgate Synagogue.

She is a trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and the Claims Conference, as well as the Jewish Leadership Council, where Mr Cohen was also a trustee until last spring.

But this week, the couple’s communal responsibilities are not first in their minds. After a “pre-honeymoon” in Israel before the wedding, they are now unwinding at a location in Britain where nobody can find them.

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