A month after the Board of Deputies announced it was forming the Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish Community – to be chaired by New Statesman Political Editor Stephen Bush – it has published its proposed timeline and terms of reference.
The Commission has spent the last month speaking to Black Jews, non-Black Jews of Colour and Mizrachi Jews to identify the key issues in scope for discussion.
The Commission will examine the issues under three broad headings:
1) Representation, Leadership and Media
2) Creating Welcoming Communal Spaces
3) Education, Training and Attitudes
As well as holding specific oral evidence strands for Black Jews, non-Black Jews of Colour and Mizrachi Jews, the Commission will also invite written evidence from British Jews with Black spouses or partners, non-Jewish Black people who work or volunteer in Jewish communal spaces, and Black Jews and non-Black Jewish of Colour resident in other countries. The option of written evidence will also be open to those who do not wish to give oral testimony.
The Commission will actively encourage testimony from children who are Black Jews, non-Black Jews of Colour or Mizrachi, and has developed a safeguarding protocol to support them in doing so.
Once the evidence has been collected, the Commission will approach Jewish denominations, schools and other key institutions to discuss the findings and come up with ways to make the Jewish community an unequivocally anti-racist environment that is fully welcoming and inclusive.
After around six months, the Commission will then report on its findings with a series of recommendations, including setting out a suitable period for implementation after which to review progress.
Commenting on the work ahead, Stephen Bush, Chair of the Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish Community, said:
“I want to thank all of the Black Jews, non-Black Jews of Colour and Mizrachi Jews who have worked with us so far to develop the scope and Terms of Reference for this Commission. No project of this kind has ever been undertaken, so there is no clear road map to follow, but with the guidance of the many passionate people who have come forward we have created a platform that will assist our work in making the Jewish community an unequivocally anti-racist environment, that is more welcoming and inclusive to Black Jews, non-Black Jews of Colour and Mizrachi Jews. I want to take the opportunity once again, to invite people to get in touch with us to share their experiences in the next stage of the process. I can’t wait to get started.”
Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “When we invited Stephen to lead this Commission, we knew he would be excellent for the role, but we could not have dreamt of the energy, enthusiasm and commitment he would bring to it. In just a few short weeks he has worked with Black Jews, non-Black Jews of Colour and Mizrachi Jews to design a pioneering process that will help our community to fight racism and become a more welcoming space. He can count on our full support as he takes forward this crucial endeavour over the coming months.”
You can read the timeline and terms of reference here.