NEWSLETTER AUGUST 2006 -
BOARD OF DEPUTIES OF BRITISH JEWS
BOARD TRACKS CHANGES IN SYNAGOGUE AFFILIATION
A report published by the Community Research Unit of the Board of Deputies of British Jews has identified the challenges and opportunities of maintaining the formal affiliation of young adults to synagogues, particularly amongst unmarried 20-30 year olds.
Trends in British Synagogue Membership 1990-2005/6, noted that many synagogues are finding new ways to reach out to young adults, recognising the fact that people are getting married later. There is a focus on young families but, says the report, 'a gap has emerged where there are few appropriate avenues for single young adult Jewish participation in synagogues.'
A spokesman said "The research confirms many of our understandings of changes within our community, but it also flags up those areas where young adults may drift away from involvement with Jewish life, and the factors motivating their lifestyle choices need to be recognized."
BOARD APPOINTS NEW COMMUNITY ISSUES DIRECTOR
The Board of Deputies of British Jews is very pleased to announce the appointment from 12 July of a new Director for its Community Issues Division.
Alex Goldberg, a qualified barrister who formerly worked for the Bar Council, will join the Board from the Commission for Racial Equality, where he has been a senior policy officer and from where he has most recently been seconded to the Metropolitan Police.
The Community Issues Division has a very broad remit which includes many of the issues of the most immediate concern to the Jewish community, including education, communal relations, regional and small communities, monitoring demographic changes and maintenance of disused cemeteries. Alex, who has served as a Deputy for his own community of Guildford, has an excellent understanding of communal issues at local, national and international level.
Commenting on his appointment, President of the Board Henry Grunwald QC said, "Alex has great knowledge and experience of the important role we play in so many areas. He is a key addition to our team as part of our vision for the future of the Board in the community."
BEVIS MARKS SERVICE
This past month a wonderful 350th commemorative service took place at the Bevis Marks synagogue. The service was attended by the Rt Hon Tony Blair who spoke of the irreplaceable role the Jews play in Britain. Rabbi Abraham Levy spoke for the community and there was beautiful music and prayers from the Sephardi choir. The contributions made by the children of the Naaima Junior School were outstanding. Every sector of the community was represented. Commenting on the event President of the Board, Henry Grunwald QC said that "the fact that the Ark, which at Bevis Marks has four doors, was opened by me, Simon Hochauser, Sir Sigmund Sternberg and Joe Lobenstein, gave a wonderful sense of unity, which we need to build on and replicate wherever possible."
BOARD MEETS NEW GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT REPRESENTATIVES
Jon Benjamin, Board Chief Executive, Mike Whine, Director of Defence and Dina Gold, Board Interfaith specialist met senior civil servants in the newly formed Department of Communities and Local Government. Wide ranging discussions covered topics as diverse as community relations following the London bombings, interfaith initiatives and funding for welfare and volunteering projects on which the Board is working with other communal organisations. The DCLG staff explained the role the department would play and promised to work with the Jewish community to develop further the already positive relationship that exists with government.
The Board was delighted to host the Ambassador of Romania, his Excellency Mr Dan Ghibernea. This was the first time that a Romanian emissary had visited the Board. The Ambassador spoke warmly of the Board and emphasised Romanians strong links both with its Jewish community and with Israel, saying that he felt that he was "surrounded by friends" and reassured the community that both he, and his successors, could be relied upon when needed.
SCHOOL CHOICE TO CHOOSE OR NOT TO CHOOSE A JEWISH SCHOOL
The CRU has recently completed a qualitative research on School Choice which aims to examine why parents choose Jewish or non-Jewish secondary schools. The research focused initially on parents residing in NW London. A paper was presented at the British Educational Research Association (BERA) annual conference, and at a conference for Jewish Studies teachers in November organised by the Agency for Jewish Education.
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