DEPUTY SPOTLIGHT: Dr Efrat Sopher
Dr Efrat Sopher earned a Bachelors degree from the University of Southern California and a Masters degree from and the London School of Economics and Political Science, both in International Relations. Efrat earned a Post Graduate Diploma in Law, and practised as a solicitor in London. Efrat earned a PhD in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science; specialising in Israeli foreign policy towards Iran 1948-1979, also examining the human element within foreign policy strategic formation and implementation. The PhD thesis revealed and analysed documents that have previously been sealed from public view.
Dr. Sopher has advised governments and organisations on foreign policy in the Middle East and beyond. She is an active member of the World Jewish Congress Jewish Diplomatic Corps and has represented the WJC worldwide, including at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Efrat serves as Chair of the Board of Advisors at the Ezri Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies, and serves on the Executive Committee of the HMS Maritime Policy and Strategy Research Centre at the University of Haifa. Efrat sits on the Board of the S&P Sephardi Community and is very active in steering and maintaining the welfare of the community.
Which community do you represent?
I am proud to represent the S&P Sephardi community and its flagship synagogue, Lauderdale Road Synagogue. The S&P Sephardi Community is the oldest community in the United Kingdom and prides itself in having established the Board of Deputies. Our congregation comprises of not only descendants of Jews from Spain and Portugal, but also Jews from throughout the Middle East. We take great care to maintain our unique traditions and identity, while evolving and engaging with the Jewish community. Our entire congregation cares deeply for the welfare of British Jewry as proud and safe members of British society.
If you could pick anyone in the world to sit next to at a Friday night dinner (past or present) who would it be and why?
In answering this question, I cannot choose between Israeli Prime Ministers David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir, so I would have them sit on either side of me at dinner. Both leaders, in their own way bonded and united their people. Ben Gurion was a visionary and a leader when Israeli domestic and foreign policies had no precedents. He oversaw the birth of Israel and maintained her safety as Israel faced existential threats daily, with courage and creativity. I would love to ask him where he found his inner strength, and what inspired him when facing critical decisions.
Golda Meir was a trailblazer among leaders, as a woman and a Prime Minister. Meir also defended her people while navigating domestic and international politics at a time when women in leadership were a rarity. I would ask Meir how she engaged with people she came across on a human level and how she made life and death decisions while diffusing crises. I would be most interested to hear about her experiences engaging with European leaders such a short time after the Holocaust, which she alludes to in her fascinating autobiography. Finally, I would as her about her feelings on the role of diaspora Jews around the world and the positive role they can play as part of world Jewry.