The people shaping Jewish life in Britain
LAST YEAR we asked readers to help us identify the 100 people who exert the greatest influence on British Jewry. Many responded, nominating on the grounds of religious or cultural impact, financial backing, or supporting those who have shaped perceptions of the community in the wider world.
An expert panel spent weeks discussing your suggestions and adding some of their own. The result was the inaugural JC Power 100, which was topped by Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks.
For our 2008 list, we again invited you to nominate — whether to keep your favourites in the 100 or bring in some fresh faces.
A largely new panel from the communal and political spheres has considered your selections, passionately debating “who is in and who is out” — and this year, “who is up and who is down”. They were looking for people with “influence” within the community — as opposed to wealth, fame, or wider influence.
Today we start by revealing numbers 100-67. Over the next two issues, we shall continue the countdown to number one.
JEWDAS (GEOFFREY COHEN)
67(New) “Geoffrey Cohen” is the collective pseudonym for representatives of the subversive Jewish group. It came to wider attention in 2006 when four members were arrested at the Simcha in the Square celebration in Trafalgar Square on suspicion of disseminating antisemitic material — flyers for a “Protocols of the Elders of Hackney” party. Police decided not to press charges. A more recent event featured obscure films on Jewish anarchists, “extreme Jewish food” and “Jewla hooping” (Jewish hula-hooping, obviously). Once promised a talk from Lord Levy on “fraud, antisemitism and where to buy in Totteridge”. Unsurprisingly, the peer didn’t show. (New) The low-profile businessman who has built up the UK franchise of Hamodia newspaper from small beginnings to be, in the view of many, the main voice of the strictly Orthodox community. Writing in this month’s 10th-anniversary magazine of British Hamodia, Mr Stobietsky defines its aim as providing “kosher reading for the whole family... It is important that people should see the Charedi world in a positive light”. He is also helping to establish Hamodia in France.
(63) As project director of the Chief Rabbi’s Office, Leonie Lewis has been stepping-up its interfaith involvement and promoting the Israel — Home of Hope CD, featuring songs selected by the Chief Rabbi. She was appointed after making an impact within the United Synagogue as director of its community-development group, helping to revive fading congregations and establish new ones such as Brondesbury.
70(New) In conveying the Reform Movement’s message, Mike Grabiner, 57, brings to bear a wealth of communications experience. The one-time chief executive of telecoms company Energis is a senior member of the tech and telecom team at investment house Apax Partners. The Cambridge graduate and former Brent Labour councillor was brought up within the United Synagogue fold, but his religious compass changed on meeting his wife Jane, who was from a Reform home. He is working to entice the young unaffiliated, opining: “I think the Reform approach is one of British Jewry’s best hopes”.
71(New) An up-and-coming name as key contributor to the well-regarded Harry’s Place blog, which is sympathetic to Israel, if at times critical, and exposes what it sees as left-wing hypocrisy. In professional life, the Oxford-educated blogger is an associate at the London office of international law firm Cleary Gottlieb, where he specialises in Financial Services Authority requirements to which regulated companies are subject. He has also authored legal guides and lectured in law at Queen Mary College, University of London.
72(New) A power within the Stamford Hill community, and beyond, as policy manager of Interlink, the umbrella body for the Charedi voluntary sector, which is highly thought of in government circles. Prior to joining Interlink in 1999, she coordinated Chizuk, a support agency for those with mentalhealth problems. In a 20-year career in the charity sector, she has also developed services for people with learning disabilities and been involved in the management of a maternity-support organisation.
73(30) A beloved communal elder, the widow of Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits maintains a busy diary, giving entertaining and often challenging talks to groups young and old. An undiminished commitment to Holocaust education reflects her background as a refugee from the Nazis. The 79-yearold maintains involvement in a range of women’s and welfare organisations, including Emunah, Jewish Care, Chai Cancer Care, the League of Jewish Women and Wizo.
74(New) Prominent this year as key peacemaker in resolving the conflict between JNF UK and Israel-based international KKL, which had threatened to set up a rival fundraising operation in the UK. A property man, philanthropist and art collector who divides his time between the UK and Israel (where he was born in 1953), he is establishing a contemporary art centre in the heart of old Jaffa to promote young artists. His diplomatic skills were previously deployed as an adviser to Ariel Sharon and as a military spokesman for the IDF.
SIR SIGMUND STERNBERG
75(46) The veteran philanthropist remains a persuasive voice on interfaith issues. A past recipient of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, Sir Sigmund, 86, was a founder of the Three Faiths Forum, bringing together Jews, Muslims and Christians, and is a patron of the International Council of Christians and Jews. Has also made a significant contribution to the Reform Movement of which he is life president, having established the Sternberg Centre in Finchley as a venue for religious, educational and cultural activities.
76(92) Although he will be less influential after May 1 if he loses the London mayoral race to Boris Johnson, Mr Livingstone, 62, has impressed the Charedi community with his appreciation of its housing problems and his support for new projects. He has raised the prospect of a Charedi presence in the proposed major development of the Thames Gateway. In the short-term, he has held talks with community leaders about providing bigger houses for the strictly Orthodox. However, many Jews find it difficult to forgive his likening of Evening Standard journalist Oliver Finegold to a concentration-camp guard; insulting comments about businessmen David and Simon Reuben; and his hosting of controversial Islamic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
77(New) Recruited by Gordon Brown to advise on social policy, the financier and charity supporter is no stranger to the headlines, most recently about the collapse of husband Ron Beller’s hedge fund in the global credit crunch. The media had a field day over the 2004 court case when the then Goldman Sachs investment banker and her husband had more than £1 million stolen from them by Ms Moses’s personal assistant — without either of them realising. In 2002 she helped establish Ark, a London-based international children’s charity, and has reportedly channelled £2 million of her own money through Ark into the King Solomon Academy in Marylebone.
RABBI JONATHAN MAGONET
78(New) A big year for the former Leo Baeck College principal and Reform Movement personality. He is the editor of the new edition of the Reform Siddur, Forms of Prayer, and is also in the forefront of Muslim-Jewish dialogue in the UK. Rabbi Magonet, 65, enthusiastically endorsed a recent initiative by prominent Muslims here and abroad for “peace, dialogue and understanding between Jews and Muslims”.
79(100) Movement up the list reflects the quality and popularity of Jewish Book Week under her stewardship. The crowds continued to support the event this year despite the late withdrawals of star speakers such as Zadie Smith and Jon Ronson. Previously cultural attaché at the French Embassy in London, where she was instrumental in promoting Francophile writers. Our judges complimented her as “a good coalition-builder”.
80(New) The former director of Heron international is the “fixer’s fixer”, helping to ensure the delivery of Gerald Ronson’s communal projects. He has a finger in many pies, including the Jewish Leadership Council and JCoSS, the cross-communal secondary school
due to open in East Barnet in 2010. Another educational role is the chairmanship of British ORT. Mr Goldman is a Stanmore Synagogue member.
JESSICA TRUMAN AND ADAM PIKE
81(69) With ongoing problems for Jewish students on campus from Muslim and left-wing elements, much rests on the outgoing and incoming UJS chairs. Nearing the end of her chairmanship, Jessica Truman took satisfaction in a positive NUS conference in Jewish student terms. Her successor harnessed the power of the new media in a productive “Vote Pikey” election campaign on Facebook and YouTube. His youth-movement experience takes in RSY and FZY.
82(New) A mover and shaker within the Charedi community. The Golders Green businessman and Jewish Tribune columnist is the driving force behind the youth summer camps for the strictly Orthodox, which have been running for over 30 years. The camps today cater for 250 youngsters, many from disadvantaged backgrounds. His voluntary work extends to independent marriage counselling.
RABBI NAFTALI BRAWER
83(New) Hailed as the “Barack Obama of Anglo-Jewry” by Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi Brawer is a rising star of the Orthodox world. He is enjoying a larger congregational audience following his move from Northwood Synagogue to Elstree and Borehamwood. Described by the Chief as “the most laid-back, non-judgemental rabbi” he knew, the Boston-born, Montreal-raised minister endeavours to combine Torah learning with openness to “the wisdom of the wider world”. He is a member of the Chief Rabbi’s cabinet with responsibility for Jewish-Muslim relations and a regular JC contributor.
84(85) The hedge-fund specialist continues to support Israel and other Jewish causes through a range of charitable means. Among his interests are Holocaust education, the homeless and Israeli film — the Alan Howard Charitable Foundation is among the sponsors of the UK Jewish Film Festival. The Hasmonean old boy is not from a strictly Orthodox background, but his Jewish ethos has been informed by friendships with rabbis. He is the founder of the £10bn London hedge fund Brevan Howard, whose interests include emerging markets, reinsurance, water and healthcare.
85(67) Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside since 1997, the 62-year-old is probably Israel’s staunchest supporter in an often hostile Commons. She came to Westminster after leading Lancashire County Council. Her varied responsibilities include sitting on the Transport Select Committee, a vicepresidency of the Local Government Association, and board membership of Merseyside arts and cultural organisations. She also chairs the Jewish Labour Movement, the successor organisation to Poale Zion, and is a Labour Friends of Israel vice-chair.
RABBI JOEY GRUNFELD
86(New) Born in London and ordained in Gateshead, Rabbi Grunfeld is an adulteducation pioneer as the founder, in 1980, and executive director of Project Seed. It runs around 50 weekly centres attended by over 2,000 adults, as well as weekend seminars and counselling services. It also led the way in the organisation of weekend educational retreats. Its schemes include One to One, offering students a learning programme tailored to their needs.
87(New) Although some consider the Board of Deputies a diminished force these days, its director-general has the ear of many in government. A solicitor by profession, Jon Benjamin came to the Board after five years as chief executive of British ORT. Much younger, at 43, than his predecessor Neville Nagler, he is readily accessible and has brought a modernising hand to the Board’s workings which has been appreciated within and outside the organisation.
88(79) Conservative Friends of Israel director since 1989, Stuart Polak oversees all aspects of CFI’s strategy, maintaining regular contact with Conservative leaders, whom he briefs on Israeli issues. An effective behind-the-scenes lobbyist, he was a key mover behind Borehamwood’s Yavneh College, which opened in 2006. With his colours tied to David Cameron’s mast, a Tory election victory would increase his influence.
89(New) Chief executive and a major player in the development of the London Jewish Cultural Centre, which offers a diversity of educational and cultural activities from its state-of-the-art base at Ivy House, Golders Green. Over 1,300 people pass through its doors each week for day and evening courses, events for young professionals and to hear speakers from the arts and other spheres. An energetic presence, she constantly asks: “How can we do this?” Expert in Jewish history, she is editor-in-chief of the teaching resource pack Lessons of the Holocaust.
90RABBI JONATHAN GUTTENTAG
91(New) The long-serving minister of Manchester's Whitefield Synagogue was cited by the judges for his wider communal role, particularly in the creation of innovative employment projects for Charedim — for example, vocational courses in subjects such as accountancy. Another goal has been working towards an infrastructure for Jewish learning to be available for all ages and abilities. He founded and has maintained an interlinking roster of educational organisations through the Whitefield shul “campus”.
93(New) A tax specialist with accountants BDO Stoy Hayward, Daniel Dover is a respected and well-connected worker for causes across the Jewish spectrum. A forthright personality with a wicked sense of humour, he advises charities on financial issues and helps organisations such as Charedi schools in negotiations with the taxman. Although he likes to keep a low profile, he is a regular at fundraising dinners and a frequent visitor to Israel. Author of War or Peace: Skirmishes with the Inland Revenue. (New) A rising name as head of the Rothschild Foundation (Europe), established in 2000 as the Hanadiv Charitable Foundation. The foundation supports the development of Jewish culture and identity, the preservation of Jewish sites and documents, and charities working to advance equality and civil rights. She has professionalised its operations by creating projects, particularly in Eastern Europe. Holder of a BA and MSc in Middle Eastern politics and political theory, she has worked for the Minerva Centre for Human Rights at the Hebrew University and Shatil, the New Israel Fund’s centre promoting democracy, tolerance and social justice. (New) Businessman and big cheese in Sephardi circles in the UK and abroad. Born into a wealthy Iraqi family, he moved to Iran in the late 1940s and spent time in Israel. He and his wife came to England after the Iranian revolution. The Naima JPS Primary School in Maida Vale, West London, is among his British involvements.
94(New) Chief executive of World Jewish Relief, which has forged a reputation for its global welfare work for needy Jews, particularly in Eastern Europe. He has brought wide-ranging experience to the role, having managed Red Cross global disaster response operations in Africa, South-East Asia and Kosovo.
97(New) Director of the Pears Foundation and instrumental in advancing its agenda, which places strong emphasis on a combination of Jewish values, social action and human rights. The 31-yearold was political adviser to colourful Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik before briefly working for the Pears family property business. He was the first employee of the Pears Foundation. (New) A sociology lecturer at Goldsmiths College, University of London, David Hirsh established the Engage website to counter left-wing and trades-union anti-Zionism and antisemitism. He was also to the fore in the campaign to reverse the academic boycott of Israeli universities. (New) The 47-year-old North Londoner is the co-founder of London Maccabi, the UK’s largest Jewish football club, which runs seven men’s teams and 27 junior sides (aged seven-18) . He is also a trustee of Rowley Lane Maccabi, which owns a 47-acre sporting facility in Arkley, Herts. Traded on the LIFFE market from its inception in 1982 and set up The Kyte Group in 1985.
98(New) President of the League of Jewish Women, one of the community's unsung voluntary-service groups. Introduced to volunteering as a child, accompanying her mother on visits to the elderly in residential homes, she was attracted to the League because it works both within and outside the Jewish community. Trained as a social worker, Mrs Marks went on to lecture in social work and was an Open University tutor for many years.
99(New) The non-Jewish Barnet Council leader and Tory Parliamentary candidate for Finchley and Golders Green has worked to build links with the Jewish community, highlighting on his personal profile his membership of Conservative Friends of Israel and involvement in the Barnet Multifaith Forum.
100(New) Since her first novel, The Cast Iron Shore, in 1996, Linda Grant, 57, has won six major literary awards and been shortlisted for two more. The child of Russian and Polish immigrants has written regularly on Jewish themes. Her latest work, The Clothes On Their Backs, tackles issues including the Holocaust, racism and the dilemma facing Jewish refugees to Britain — maintain a low profile, or seize on opportunities.
Rabbi Jonathan Magonet