No one is talk­ing about merger now

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

NEARLY TWO and a half years ago the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil an­nounced plans to ex­plore the pos­si­bil­ity of unit­ing in a sin­gle, rep­re­sen­ta­tive body. Now one may well ask: “Merger? What merger?”

Al­though the JLC’s lat­est ac­counts claim that in 2014 the two or­gan­i­sa­tions have worked to­gether “much more closely”, both now seem in­tent on plough­ing their own fur­row. The com­mit­tee set up for fur­ther li­ai­son has not met since Jonathan Arkush was elected pres­i­dent of the Board in May. As a half­way house, it had been sug­gested that the Board and the JLC share of­fices. But when the Board and the UJIA, which have co­hab­ited for the past year, move into their new premises next week, the JLC will not be mov­ing in with them. In­deed a pro­posal to cre­ate a communal hub which might in­clude other or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Bi­com as well seems dead in the wa­ter.

Money talks. Led by pow­er­ful donors such as Sir Mick Davis and Leo Noe, the JLC can muster far greater fi­nan­cial fire­power than the Board and it is con­tem­plat­ing even fur­ther ex­pan­sion. It has plans to es­tab­lish a net­work of half a dozen re­gional Is­rael field­work­ers and is re­cruit­ing an ex­ec­u­tive on a re­puted six-fig­ure salary to head a new pub­lic afffairs direc­torate.

While the Board may have as­sets of nearly £5 mil­lion, swelled by the sale of its cen­tral Lon­don head­quar­ters, its other in­come fell last year. Mr Arkush does not want to pick a fight in pub­lic with the JLC, al­though he did com­ment ear­lier this year that if the JLC had money to spend, it should be di­rected “to the or­gan­i­sa­tions al­ready car­ry­ing out the work like the Board rather than risk du­pli­ca­tion”.

Inan­in­ter­viewwith­the JC inthe sum­mer,he­said:“Idon’tthinkit­make sense­to­havet­wop­ub­li­caf­fairs­bod­ies.”

Pri­vately some se­nior Jewish char­ity fig­ures have spo­ken of their frus­tra­tion at the lack of progress to­wards merger. Af­ter all, one of the JLC’s stated goals is to im­prove the ef­fec­tive­ness of communal ser­vices by iden­ti­fy­ing “gaps…over­lap or du­pli­ca­tion”.

PHOTO: JOHN RIFKIN

JLC chief Sir Mick Davis

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