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The Big Society and the UK Jewish Community: A Jewish Leadership Council Policy Paper 

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The Big Society, in its essence, is about communities providing services to the public out of a sense of
communal belonging and public duty, rather than Government providing services to everyone centrally. 

The Big Society is made up of the combination and integration of small communities doing good things.
It is about small-scale diversity, understanding that different communities have different priorities. This
understanding of difference is at the heart of the idea of the Big Society, replacing a one-size-fits-all view
imposed by central Government. Different communities may have different ideas about crime, reflected
through an elected Police Commissioner. They may have different ideas about planning, given voice
through a neighbourhood-based planning system. They may have different ideas about the priorities of
their Local Authorities, more able to be enacted through the new Power of Competence, and they might
have different ideas about their schools, reflected through the Free Schools policy. 

But there’s more than one sort of community. It is easy to narrowly imagine a community as essentially
geographical, and to see communities as identical with neighbourhoods. Ideally, neighbourhoods should
all be communities, but there are other sorts of communities too: communities of shared interests, shared
faith, shared culture and history.
 
People give time and money to their own communities out of a sense of identification and simple 
self-interest, ensuring that their communities provide the sorts of services and voluntary organisations
that they want. For the Big Society to succeed, it has to harness all of these communities, together with
the energy and resources they contain, and to find a way to use people’s and communities’ self-interest
constructively, to provide the widest benefit possible for society as a wh
ole. 
Of course, communities aren’t mutually exclusive. This idea belongs to the naïve multiculturalism typical
of the 1980s, which assumed everyone can be neatly put into only one box. In reality, people may have
several senses of belonging, several connected identities, and can be active in several different
communities.

This applies to British Jews as much as anyone else. This paper is specifically about British Jews as
members of the Jewish community. Of course, all British Jews are also a part of their local
neighbourhoods and other communities of interest or values, but this paper focuses on the Jewish
community.

It aims to show the sorts of social capital that the Jewish community generates in all areas of life and to
give some practical examples of how the vision of the Big Society can be realised. It will also note some
potential stumbling blocks to our community – and other communities of all types – in building the Big
Society for everyone.  

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The Big Society and the UK Jewish Community: A Jewish Leadership Council Policy Paper 

Bibliographic Information

Jewish Leadership Council The Big Society and the UK Jewish Community: A Jewish Leadership Council Policy Paper . Jewish Leadership Council. 2010:  https://archive.jpr.org.uk/object-uk79