• APPG AGM photo

    All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews – 2016 AGM
    MINUTES

    22 MARCH 2016

    Room 460, PORTCULLIS HOUSE

    Attending

    Dr Matthew Offord MP (Chair – standing down: now Vice Chair)

    Oliver Dowden MP (Co-Chair), Wes Streeting MP (Co-Chair), Baroness Sarah Ludford (Vice Chair), Ruth Smeeth MP, Lord Alf Dubs, Tulip Siddiq MP

     

    SECRETARIAT (the Board of Deputies of British Jews)

    Jonathan Arkush, Phil Rosenberg, Dawn Waterman, Jack Thorpe Baker, Joel Salmon

     

    Apologies

    Rt Hon Gisela Stuart MP, Lord Monroe Palmer, Rt Hon David Lammy MP, Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Jonathan Djanogly MP, Rt Hon The Lord Dholakia, Graham Brady MP, Mike Freer MP, Ian Mearns MP, Baroness Julia Neuberger, Mike Gapes MP, Graham Stringer MP, Joan Ryan MP, Lord Leslie Turnberg, Luciana Berger MP

    1. Welcome and election of officers

    Matthew Offord welcomed attendees and officiated the election.

    The positions available were:

    • Co-Chairs
    • Vice Chairs
    • Treasurer
    • Secretary

      The following people were duly elected:

    • Co-Chairs: Oliver Dowden MP, Wes Streeting MP
    • Vice Chairs: Mike Freer MP, Baroness Sarah Ludford, Ian Mearns MP, Dr Matthew Offord MP, Lord Monroe Palmer, Rt Hon Gisela Stuart MP
    • Treasurer: Rt Hon David Lammy MP
    • Secretary: Bob Blackman MP

      2. discussion of previous year and programme for year ahead

    Dr Offord then handed over to to new Co-Chairs Oliver Dowden MP and Wes Streeting MP, who invited Phil Rosenberg from the secretariat to give some opened the discussion for members to suggest possible future projects:

    Phil Rosenberg discussed the most significant events pertaining to the APPG and some initial suggestions for the year ahead:

     

    • Last year – General Election meant that we paused activities.
    • Chanukah Reception was a success, with over 80 parliamentarians and leading speakers from the four major parties.
    • New Parliamentary Officer Joel Salmon taking over in July, with a major focus on growing the APPG and helping it to fulfil its full potential in the new parliamentary year.
    • There was a suggestion of a briefing on the Charedi / Strictly Orthodox community, which was met with interest from members.
    • We are also likely to prioritise education, as Jewish schools and schools of other faiths seem to be under near constant attack from people hostile to faith.
    • In previous years, we have organised briefings on religious freedom issues like kosher meat, debates on Holocaust restitution, engaging in cross-party lobbying on tax credits, speaking events at Limmud Conference, and organised Jewish school visits to Parliament.
    • There has been a suggestion that we put more of a focus on issues around Jewish culture and issues like Jewish freedoms in the workplace – and last year we launched the Employer’s Guide to Judaism.
    • A number of Jewish social action and social justice charities have expressed an interest in our partnering with them to highlight issues as well.
    • It was suggested that the APPG organise trips to Jewish infrastructure, which attendees approved of.
    • Ruth Smeeth MP suggested working jointly with specific APPGs, (e.g. APPG Against Antisemitism) on issues of security and interfaith/dialogue, and ensuring not to duplicate.
    • Baroness Sarah Ludford advised the APPG organise events abroad, for instance in Brussels, to engage more broadly with international organisations.
    • Oliver Dowden MP proposed a ‘community heroes’ campaign, to highlight important work done by local constituency figures, with a reception for such heroes in Parliament.
    • Tulip Siddiq MP suggested an event with Mitzvah Day.
    • President of The Board Jonathan Arkush thanked members for their continued support and the encouraging progress the APPG has made over the last year, which is noticed and appreciated by the UK Jewish community.

     

  • Britain’s Jewish Community Statistics

    Introduction

    The Board of Deputies has been collecting statistics relating to the British Jewish community for over 50 years. This report is the latest in a series covering data relating to births, marriages, divorces and deaths, and covers the period up to 2012. The previous report, covering the period up to 2010, was published in April 2012.

    These data are collected on behalf of the whole community. It is the only exercise to do this on a regular basis and therefore the data are unique in being able to show changes over time. From the point of view of community planners, the data represent the most up-to-date portrayal of the Jewish community in Britain.

    Although they are indicative of actual demographic trends, they only represent those Jews who have chosen, or whose families have chosen, to associate themselves with the Jewish community through a formal Jewish act, ie circumcision, marriage in a synagogue, dissolution of marriage by a beth din, or Jewish burial or cremation. Consequently, Jews who have not chosen to identify in these ways do not appear in this report.

    However, the results of the National Jewish Community Survey, commissioned and carried out by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, and currently being analysed, are expected to shed further light on this particular area.

    Further, it should be recognised that these data are collected regardless of institutional denomination. They therefore include some individuals who would not be recognised as Jewish by all sections of the community.

    Executive summary

    Births

    From the most recently available data, it is estimated that there were at least 3,860 Jewish ‘births’ in 2011. The true figure may indeed be somewhat higher than this.

    What is undeniable is that the number of births within the strictly Orthodox community has been continuing to increase to the extent that, even by a conservative estimate, they now comprise at least four out of every ten Jewish births.

    Marriages

    The number of Jewish marriages recorded by the Board fell to 808 in 2011, the lowest figure since the Board’s records began in 19011, before recovering slightly to 857 in 2012. The trend still appears to be downwards.

    Over the last 30 years, the proportion of marriages taking place under the auspices of ‘central Orthodox’ synagogues (the United Synagogue and other synagogues of a similar orientation) has declined from more than 60% to just under a half. Over the same period, marriages taking place in the strictly Orthodox community have increased from less than one in ten of the total to more than three in ten.

    If existing trends continue, strictly Orthodox marriages are expected to comprise a majority of all Jewish marriages within the next decade.

    Deaths

    A total of 2,452 burials or cremations under Jewish auspices were recorded in 2011 and, despite an increase to 2,575 in 2012, the downwards trend of recent decades is clearly continuing.

    Conclusions

    The number of deaths being recorded each year is now significantly lower than the inferred number of births. We can therefore conclude that the community is experiencing a period of natural increase. Whether or not this extends to a net overall increase in the Jewish population is subject to some caveats, which are discussed in the final section of this report.

    What is abundantly clear though is that the British Jewish community now contains two very different sub-communities (even though the boundary between them is not always well defined). The strictly Orthodox part of the community continues to exhibit characteristics (a younger age profile, earlier marriage and higher birth rate) which ensure that it is growing at a significant rate, and that it comprises an increasing proportion of the Jewish population of the UK. The ‘mainstream’ community, meanwhile, is continuing to experience a gradual decline in size.

    Download the full report 

  • The 2014 European Elections – A Jewish Manifesto

    EU Manifesto Cover smallThe 2014 European Parliament Election will take place on 22 May 2014 in the United Kingdom.

    These elections matter. The EU makes up to 50% of laws enacted in the UK and controls an annual budget of around €150 billion (or £125 billion).

    This manifesto is aimed at informing existing and prospective Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) about Jewish interests and concerns. The Board of Deputies hopes that the manifesto will empower our elected representatives to understand and champion these causes. Some of these are live topics, whereas others are matters that could potentially arise. In each section, the manifesto outlines in bold the commitments that the Board of Deputies would like to see from MEPs, summarised below.

    Executive Summary: Key Jewish Aspirations in Europe

    We ask our MEPs and prospective MEPs to commit to the following:

    1. Religious Freedom

    • MEPs should defend religious freedom in the European Union and around the World.
    • MEPs should promote a culture of respect for diversity, including reasonable accommodation of individuals’ rights to wear religious symbols and observe religious festivals and the Jewish Sabbath.
    • MEPs should defend the right of Jews to practice Shechita (religious slaughter of animals for food.)
    • MEPs should not stigmatise religious or other minorities through labelling. If it is genuinely consumer choice that is desired, all methods of slaughter should be labelled.
    • MEPs should defend the right of Jews to practice circumcision.
    • MEPs should advance the cause of human rights across the World.
    • MEPs should support the EU and Member States in recognising the diversity of different denominations within Judaism, drawing on expert advice where necessary.

    2. Extremism, Racism & Antisemitism in Europe

    • MEPs should be alert to extremism, racism and antisemitism in Europe.
    • MEPs should support coordination between member states to prevent and prosecute hate crimes and acts of terrorism.
    • MEPs should act on the concerning findings from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) report, including unreservedly condemning antisemitism in all its forms and challenging member states who do not address and monitor antisemitism.
    • MEPs should look to secure adequate assistance and funding to European institutions such as the EU’s FRA, ensuring that it is able to conduct its survey of Jewish experiences and perceptions of a ntisemitism in the EU every five years as planned.
    • MEPs should be particularly wary of the risk of increased antisemitism at times of heightened conflict in the Middle East.
    • MEPs should be alive to hate as expressed on new social media.
    • MEPs should help to ensure that assistance is provided to third-party reporting bodies and security agencies that monitor and protect vulnerable groups, including the Jewish community.
    • MEPs should support initiatives which promote dialogue and understanding between different groups in society, to prevent tensions and promote cooperation.

    3. Post-Holocaust Issues

    • MEPs should lend their support to Holocaust education, remembrance and research.
    • MEPs and prospective MEPs should take the time to show solidarity with all the victims of Nazi persecution, including Jews, Roma, homosexuals, disabled people and political opponents of Nazism.
    • MEPs should use the moral authority of their position to call for a just and speedy conclusion to the issue of restitution across Europe and to press the institutions of the European Union to do the same.
    • MEPs should challenge their European colleagues on those narratives that seek to minimise or downplay the Holocaust.
    • MEPs should support initiatives to find unmarked graves, including helping to unlock EUfunding and working with MEP colleagues from other countries to overcome some of the bureaucratic and political obstacles to this work.

    4. EU-Israel Relations

    • MEPs should promote peace, security, prosperity and equality for Israel and its neighbours.
    • MEPs should mobilise EU structures to promote Middle East peace at both the leadership level and at the grassroots.
    • MEPs should oppose boycotts of Israel, which are divisive and promote a negative incentive structure that militates against peace.
    • MEPs should be aware of the uniquely complicated threats to Israel’s security, and should encourage EU institutions to take account of these threats.
    • MEPs should raise concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme, its financing of international terror and its human rights record with the the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
    • MEPs should act to proscribe Hezbullah in its entirety, damaging its abilities to launch attacks in Europe, the Middle East and around the World.
    • MEPs should refuse to meet with Hamas politicians, officials or supporters, until the movement recognises Israel; agrees to abide by previous agreements; and desists from terrorist attacks.
    • MEPs should support and nurture the growing trade between Israel and the European Union.
    • MEPs should be constructive partners in the pursuit of greater integration and equality in Israel by offering financial and political support to initiatives aimed at Arab-Jewish coexistence, and helping to support projects that empower and advance the position of Arab citizens within Israeli society.
    • MEPs should call on the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to ensure that international institutions such as the UNHRC act with integrity and do not disproportionately focus on Israel.

    Download the full PDF