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Date: 2014
Date: 2012
Abstract: It seems clear that the UK Jewish community makes it hard for the kind of high achieving and well educated women who thrive in secular life to take on leadership responsibilities within it. In contrast to the wider ‘third sector’, Jewish charitable organisations have very few women in leadership roles despite exceptionally high levels of achievement and education. Four-fifths of a large sample of both men and women in the British Jewish community surveyed in February and March 2012 demanded change in the gender balance of our organisations, statistically signifying clear support for a pro-active and long-lasting agenda for change now proposed in this report by the Commission on Women in Jewish Leadership (CWJL). Evidently this state of affairs resonates strongly with our community. The Commission takes this and other research data from both organisations and individuals as a broad mandate of support from across the community, and it now looks to leaders and to our organisations for implementation. The CWJL was set up by the JLC in early 2011 to recommend ways of advancing more women to senior paid and voluntary roles in the community. It now calls on the community publicly to acknowledge that the current state of affairs is unsustainable, to pledge to make changes that will create equal opportunities for women and men and to act to promote more women to leadership positions. The CWJL accepts the reality that our community, being relatively conservative, prefers evolution to revolution, and that it would prefer to move slowly. The recommendations seek to work within this reality, while noting that the gender imbalances in our leadership are a pressing matter of equality and social justice. There is also a compelling need to address the issues raised by this inquiry before another generation, particularly of young women, becomes alienated, and their talents are lost to the community. The Commission limited the scope of its attention to voluntary (‘lay’) and professional leadership roles in Jewish communal organisations. The terms of reference were tightly defined in order to be realistic about opportunities for change. Some other, related issues which were relevant only to certain sections of the community were frequently raised by members of the public and acknowledged in the Commission’s deliberations (such as helping women back into work, men and leadership, women and reading from the Torah) but have purposely not been followed through with specific recommendations in this report as they fall outside the remit of the CWJL. The issues of women leading synagogue boards and educating children about gender equality form a recommendation for future work as they are key to meeting our remit long term but are beyond our specific brief or expertise. Other areas of diversity and equality, such as age or disability, were not part of our remit. The CWJL’s recommendations cover Governance, Personal Development, Networking, Communications and Other (comprising ideas which do not fall into any of the other four categories). At the heart of the recommendations is a recognition that change needs to come from women themselves, both individually and collectively; from the Jewish community’s organisations and institutions and also, from schools and youth organisations. Before change can take place in organisations, they need to recognise where and when there is indeed a problem.To drive the specific recommendations under the five headings introduced above, the Commission recommends the establishment of a group of lay leaders, to be known as the Equality Support Group (ESG), housed in an
existing organisation, which will monitor progress and ensure that we move forward on this vital issue. The focus is
on ‘tachlis’ (action/substance) not talk.
Date: 2010
Abstract: 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
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

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

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.