A proposed merger of the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council could result in the Board president being given greater powers.
One idea which the JC understands has been floated in talks between the two organisations is that the president in future could hand-pick his own cabinet team, rather than having officers directly elected by ordinary members of the Board.
Neither the Board nor JLC leaders have revealed any blueprint for a unified body. But representatives of the two organisations are understood to have agreed a set of principles for further discussion, known as “The Ten Propositions”.
One model thought to be on the table is for a “bicameral” — two-chamber — body compared by one source to the American House of Representatives and Senate. The chambers would jointly elect a president.
So far, Board leaders have been prepared only to say that they see the “advantages in setting up a new organisation”.
The future relationship between the Board and the JLC is to be discussed at a plenary session of the Board on Sunday. But the debate has already begun on the Board’s Facebook page, where deputies have been posting comments.
Gabriel Webber, a representative for the Union of Jewish Students, said that a merger was “necessary to avoid duplication of work”. But Joseph Millis (Bromley Reform Synagogue) feared that the absorption of the JLC “could so easily turn the representative body into a kind of oligarchy”.
Simon Sacerdoti (Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation) commented: “The Board has history and legitimacy but no money. The JLC has money but no history and no legitimacy. A Board with the JLC’s money is the answer.”
Jonathan Hoffman (Woodside Park Synagogue) asked: “Does anyone seriously think that the partly unelected JLC will agree to cede all power to the Board of Deputies?”