Jonathan Arkush’s letter to Deputies and staff

June 3, 2015 - Board of Deputies - Share: Twitter Facebook

Dear Board staff team,

I take up the position of President of the Board today.  I am the 47th President to hold the office since 1760 and I am very conscious of the remarkable legacy of history and tradition associated with the post.  But my main thoughts are for the future and the Board’s critical mission to serve the British Jewish community, wider UK society and Jewish communities abroad.

I would like to offer an especially warm welcome to newly elected Deputies, as well as those Deputies who are returning.  It is essential to the health and vitality of the Board that this year we are joined by new talent and ideas.  I would also like to thank all those Deputies who are stepping down.  To new Deputies the Board will at first seem unfamiliar, and I aim to make you at home as quickly as possible.  At the first Board meeting on 21 June at 2.15 pm, we will be making some important innovations to improve the style and content of meetings, as I have promised.  These will include induction for new Deputies.  Our meetings can be improved and I am determined to overhaul our procedures to make meetings fresher, more interesting and in keeping with a modern 21st century body.  Details will follow soon.

As Vivian Wineman steps down from the Presidency I would like to reiterate on behalf of the entire community my deepest thanks and appreciation for his six years of dedicated hard work on our behalf.  The gratitude of the community and many friends outside goes with him and we wish him health and strength in what I know will be his continuing commitment to our welfare.

I would also like to offer my thanks to former Senior Vice President Laura Marks OBE, Vice President Alex Brummer and Treasurer Laurence Brass who have also stepped down after their years of dedicated service to the Board and our community.  I am proud to count Laura, Alex and Laurence not only as colleagues but as friends and I hold them in warm regard and wish them well in the future.  I am fully confident that they too will continue to play a significant role in our community and our good wishes go with them in their future roles.

I am fortunate to have the support of a very fine team of colleagues as Honorary Officers of the Board, Senior Vice President Richard Verber, Vice Presidents Marie van der Zyl and Sheila Gewolb and Treasurer Stuart MacDonald.  Two weeks ago we hit the ground running immediately after our election and we have met and spoken regularly since.  Richard, Marie, Sheila and Stuart lost no time in ensuring the smooth handover from their predecessors and staff team and I am appreciative to them for starting work immediately and familiarising themselves with the key issues well before formally taking up their posts today.  I wish them well and I know that we will make up a good working team.

All my thoughts now are for the wellbeing of the remarkable British Jewish community which I have been given the privilege to lead.  Celebrating Jewish life in Britain in all its rich diversity is for me the very essence of the position, together of course with the huge responsibility of protecting and defending our Jewish way of life.  With your help and support I pledge to do my utmost.  I hope and pray that I shall be able to celebrate more than protect and defend, but events will no doubt dictate their own course.

I look forward to speaking, working and meeting with you all and with your constituencies in the future.  I shall try to be as accessible as possible.  The best means of contacting me will be by email to President@bod.org.uk

With warmest wishes

Jonathan