JLC ‘undemocratic’, says ex-US man
A FORMER executive member of the Jewish Leadership Council has criticised its election for a new head, saying the choice of candidates is too narrow.
Simon Hochhauser, a former president of the United Synagogue, said the nomination process should be re-run under new rules and he would stand if he were eligible.
Jonathan Goldstein, the chairman of the JLC’s education division, Partnerships for Jewish Schools, is set to be the council’s new chairman following the withdrawal of the second nominee, Stephen Pack, from the election to succeed Sir Mick Davis next month.
But Dr Hochhauser, who cochairs the circumcision defence organisation Milah
UK, said: “As the UK embarks on an open, democratic and transparent election, its Jewish community is appointing a key leader under a manifestly narrow and undemocratic process. Even at this late stage, the JLC should halt its election in favour of a fair process under a revised constitution.”
He had already voiced his dissatisfaction in a letter to Sir Mick before Mr Pack pulled out of the contest on Sunday.
The JLC chairman, Dr Hochhauser wrote, was “one of the most important positions in our community. It is therefore a great shame that candidates for the position are being drawn from a relatively small pool of people — essentially a snapshot of the current heads of various denominations and charities, some of them relatively small, together with JLC trustees and VPs [vice-presidents].” There were, he added, “many more people in our community who display the skills, background and willingness to take on this important role. I would certainly like to offer my own candidacy for this post as I believe that my record in the community, coupled with my general experience and abilities, should at least put me in
the frame for the nomination and election process.”
It was vital for the JLC’s credibility, he said, “that the selection of its leader should be seen to be open, democratic and transparent. The current process fails each of those tests.”
The JLC, which organised the election under a new constitution agreed this year, declined to comment on his criticism.
Mr Goldstein’s position must still be ratified by the JLC’s council and trustees. He is due to answer questions in a hustings scheduled for next week.
Mr Pack said his withdrawal been “a most difficult decision as I think I am uniquely qualified to take the JLC to a new level”.
The JLC, he added, would be “in good hands with Jonathan Goldstein and there are a number of other charities I wish to concentrate on”.
In the meantime, four JLC members will contest two vacancies on its trustee board: the joint chairman of Jewish Women’s Aid, Hilda Worth; chairman of Jewish Care, Steven Lewis; Maccabi GB representative, Michael Ziff, and Zionist Federation chairman, Paul Charney.
Critic: Simon Hochhauser