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Community chest now back on the agenda

    Charity leaders are considering plans to set up a £5 million community chest to finance small organisations at risk in the tough economic climate, as well as to support solidarity events with Israel and respond to political crises.

    The proposal has been made by the Jewish Leadership Council, in a paper seen by the JC, which has been circulated to senior professionals in Jewish organisations and major donors.

    The projected £5 million pot would provide funding over three to four years for such services as providing ministerial help to small communities, leadership training, research on the Anglo-Jewish population and strategic support to Jewish day schools.

    The Office of Small Communities is a typical example of one service which is "a prime candidate for central support", according to the paper.

    The office has been "shifted from pillar to post" depending on where funding has been available, but now it is losing its main grant from the UJIA, which picked up the bill in recent years.

    This could help fund rallies or demos that we need

    It is also envisaged that leaders could draw on the chest for pro-Israel rallies with Israel, such as the demonstration during Operation Cast Lead two years ago or the parade celebrating Israel's 60th anniversary the year before.

    "Currently these occasions are organised on an ad hoc basis, invariably diverting central resources from other critical tasks," the briefing paper says.

    A community chest could help fund the analysis of data about British Jews which the Institute for Jewish Policy Research hopes to extract from the 2011 Census.

    It could also aid central institutions such as the Board of Deputies which is financed by levies on synagogue members or organisations.

    "These funding streams are at their limits," the paper says, "and yet there is a growing expectation of central agencies to divert resource from core funds to meet urgent needs such as political crises, fighting boycotts and to fill other gaps in provision."

    Grants from the chest would be allocated by a board which would include major donors as well as the president of the Board of Deputies.

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