Revealed: challenger for the Board’s presidency

Shomrei Hadath Synagogue's Jonathan Neumann, who sits on the communal body's constitutional committee, has announced his candidacy


Jonathan Neumann, who has represented Shomrei Hadath Synagogue on the Board of Deputies for the past seven years, has announced that he is challenging current president Marie van der Zyl for leadership of the organisation.

Elections for the Board’s officerships are due on 9 May. As an incumbent, Ms van der Zyl was expected to be unopposed. The last challenge to an incumbent was in 1964 when Barnett Janner was seeking a fourth term.

Mr Neumann, who trained as a charity lawyer, sits on the Board’s constitutional committee — which the JC reported last month is refusing to meet as a result of a row over the provision of protection from legal costs.

He says that by prompting an election he is “forcing accountability by giving deputies a real electoral choice”, describing his “transformative candidacy — leading to a transformative presidency.”

In his initial statement he attacks the way “the Board has acted as a blockage rather than an encouragement to Deputies’ talent and willingness to apply their skills and experience for the good of Anglo-Jewry.” He says he intends “to bring an inclusive and collegiate approach that empowers the nearly 300 Deputies – including our regional Deputies – all of whom have a tremendous amount to give,” promising that he would “restore unity and enhance democracy... by welcoming debate, increasing transparency and including Deputies in policy-making.”

Citing his “record of encouraging new Orthodox and Progressive Deputies in London and the regions to join the Board”, he says he has demonstrated his “commitment to ensuring our future as the democratic and representative leadership organisation of every part of our community.”

Mr Neumann says he has a track record of “working with a range of educational, defence and advocacy organisations” and “helped bring unprecedented legal challenges reaching the Court of Appeal against local authorities passing BDS resolutions, which, together with my successful interventions at the highest levels of government, largely ended that practice.”


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