Following consultation with representatives of more than 300 communal organisations, the Board of Deputies today launched its Jewish Manifesto for Local Government in advance of May's local elections.
A successor to the Jewish Manifesto released before last year's General Election, it outlines "policy asks" in which the Board seeks support from local authorities. It also incorporates "10 commitments" for local policy-makers, reflecting the needs of Jewish communities nationwide.
The commitments include opposing antisemitism and other forms of racism; providing resources to promote interfaith relations and joint social action projects; making efforts not to exacerbate communal tensions over conflicts in the Middle East; support for Jewish schools and for Jewish care providers. Where such specialist care does not exist within a local authority, residents who wish to access it should be funded to do so in other council areas, the manifesto suggests.
In the wake of the controversy over the unwillingness of Mary Hassell, head of St Pancras coroner's court, to grant quick burials for Jews and Muslims, the document highlights the importance of understanding the needs of diverse communities in public health and related provision.
"When appointing coroners, stipulate that they should be prepared to offer an 'out of hours' service and minimally invasive autopsies to ensure quick burials."
Another commitment calls for help in developing Jewish communities through the construction or expansion of synagogues and eruvs; the celebration of Jewish culture and heritage through civic events; the preservation of historic buildings and contributions to cultural projects.
There is also a call to understand the needs of smaller Jewish communities, whose members might feel especially vulnerable to increases in anti-Jewish rhetoric.
The manifesto was launched at the Local Government Seminar on the Jewish Community in Yorkshire at Leeds Civic Hall, staged jointly by the Board, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Leeds Jewish Representative Council. MPs and civic chiefs were among those attending.