Lead­er­ship: qual­ity counts

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT&ANALYSIS/ -

READ­ING THE re­port by Si­mon Rocker on the ex­cel­lent Lim­mud Con­fer­ence (JC, De­cem­ber 29), I see that the pres­i­dent of the United Syn­a­gogue sup­ports the idea of women be­com­ing of­fi­cers of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

To re­as­sure him, my syn­a­gogue, the New Lon­don in St John’s Wood, has had two ex­cel­lent chair­women in the past few years, and as he and ev­ery­one will ac­knowl­edge our late great Rabbi Louis Ja­cobs was one of the most em­i­nent Ha­lachic schol­ars of his time.

There­fore I am sure Si­mon Hochhauser need have no ha­lachic con­cerns for his plans. As to rab­binic con­cerns — well, that’s an­other mat­ter. June Ja­cobs juneruth@tis­cali.co.uk A DY­NAMIC leader in the syn­a­gogue is a dy­namic leader, whether male or fe­male. How­ever, if fe­male there are cer­tain bound­aries which should be pre­served.

I am priv­i­leged to have been the only fe­male pres­i­dent of the Nor­wich He­brew Con­gre­ga­tion, and dur­ing my three years of of­fice I did not once break with tra­di­tion. I did not go to the Bimah, the Ark or the Se­fer To­rah — those are the do­main of the male.

Dr Si­mon Hochhauser is right in think­ing women have a greater role to play within the syn­a­gogue — as of­fi­cers of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, but not as rab­bonim. Ethel Im­ber-Lith­man Nor­wich Syn­a­gogue, Nor­wich AT LIM­MUD I was one of the pen­sion­ers who was “sway­ing on my feet” with Joshua Nelson. As a first-timer I was ex­tremely im­pressed by the com­pe­tence of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, the width and depth of the pro­gramme, and the ex­cel­lence of the speak­ers. I thor­oughly en­joyed the lec­tures, dis­cus­sions and work­shops that I at­tended. But two of the ses­sions wor­ried me.

The first, led by a se­nior vice pres­i­dent of the Board of Deputies, was called “Does a com­mu­nity get the lead­er­ship it de­serves?” It at­tracted an au­di­ence of about 10, which in­cluded mem­bers of the speaker’s fam­ily.

The sec­ond, “The Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil — myths and re­al­i­ties”, chaired by the CEO of the JLC, had an au­di­ence of ex­actly two, me and a lady from South Africa who had a par­tic­u­lar axe to grind. Not one of the hun­dreds of in­tel­li­gent Bri­tish young­sters who were there made the com­mu­nity’s lead­er­ship their first pri­or­ity, al­though the mat­ter is of greater im­por­tance to them than it is to my gen­er­a­tion.

It seems to me self-ev­i­dent that our com­mu­nity, like any other group, does get the lead­er­ship it de­serves — and no ques­tion mark. In our case that could well be a self-per­pet­u­at­ing oli­garchy. Dr John Marks Eyre Court, Finch­ley Road Lon­don NW8

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