The most influential in Jewish life
23(44) Not one to seek the limelight, the Community Security Trust chief executive fulfils a crucial role in overseeing security at synagogues, Jewish schools and other community organisations and around 1,000 communal events through trained and dedicated volunteers. Indeed, Mr Benson’s initial involvement in the trust was as a volunteer in the early 1990s. The CST has won the admiration of police and government. Visiting its Hendon headquarters last month, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith praised its work and cooperation with the authorities. Mr Benson was previously in the property field.
24(5) The trenchant writer, author and blogger is one of Israel’s strongest media supporters. Nor does she pull her punches when commenting on political and social issues. But the controversial JC and Daily Mail columnist can bitterly divide opinion — and our panel questioned the extent of her influence on British Jews. Born in 1951, the Oxford-educated journalist made her name on The Guardian, moving on to The Observer and The Sunday Times before joining the Mail in 2001. Once seen as a champion of the left, she now advocates traditional values, bemoaning the moral failings of society. However, she prefers to consider herself a defender of “authentic liberal values against the attempt to destroy Western culture from within”. She is married to legal journalist Joshua Rozenberg.
25(22) A generous benefactor to UJIA and Reform, among a plethora of charitable interests, Stephen Rubin has been instrumental in working towards the establishment of a non-Orthodox organisation promoting ethics on a range of issues. This follows an acrimonious split in the Jewish Association for Business Ethics over the exclusion of non-Orthodox rabbis. Mr Rubin runs sportswear company Pentland, whose brands include Berghaus, Ellesse, Kickers, Lacoste, Red or Dead and Ted Baker. The company is among recipients of this year’s Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in the international trade category.
26(48) An inspiring personality who is admired for making Jewish learning accessible as chief executive of the London School of Jewish Studies. Popularly known as Rafi, Dr Zarum originated the successful Torah L’Am crash course, studied nationwide, which empowers students to “talk Torah”. His “48 things you can do to make a difference” guide has been distributed to thousands of schools and youth clubs. His educational expertise is in demand for conferences in Israel, America and Europe.
THE FRESHWATER FAMILY
27(54) Leading philanthropists in the strictly Orthodox community who contribute to hundreds of charitable causes, both organisations and individuals, here and abroad. Benzion Freshwater chairs the family’s property business and is valued at £970 million by the Sunday Times Rich List. As well as being part of the business, younger brother Shlomo has made a huge impact on the spiritual scene as rabbi of the Sassover Beis Hamedrash in Golders Green and head of the Chaye Olam yeshivah on Finchley Road, the only yeshivah in North-West London, to which he devotes a considerable amount of his time.
RABBI DANNY RICH
28(31) An effective chief executive of Liberal Judaism, which represents around 10,000 people in some three dozen communities, many outside of the major Jewish areas. The South Londoner was appointed in late 2004 after serving the Kingston Liberal congregation for almost two decades. He began his rabbinical training at Leo Baeck College in 1984, having been active in student politics at Manchester University, where he studied politics and modern history. Rabbi Rich is an advocate of equal religious and civil rights for women and homosexuals. He is a Jewish prison and hospital chaplain and heads interfaith initiatives in Surrey.
29(New) The Prime Minister may not have Tony Blair’s natural affinity with the Jewish community, but he has built on the good relations established by his predecessor. The government has extended its financial backing of sixth-formers’ visits to Auschwitz and Mr Brown has accepted an invitation to become a JNF patron. To rapturous applause, he told a Board of Deputies dinner last year: “Israel will always have our support. We will be a friend in good times and bad and we will never compromise our friendship for political expediency.” He is an admirer of the Chief Rabbi, whom he says he consults regularly.
30(57) A “quiet power” in key organisations, particularly Bicom, the London-based Finnish billionaire is a recent addition to the Jewish Leadership Council. A major property player, Mr Zabludowicz, 56, is said to own 40 per cent of downtown Las Vegas including half-a-dozen casinos. His wife Anita is a prominent art collector.