Orthodox Jews ask Khan not to attend BoD dinner

Sadiq Khan speaks at Chanukah in the Square 2015

JVL Introduction

The conflict between the Charedi community and the Board of Deputies deepens, with the Charedi community,  over twenty percent of the UK’s Jewish population, adamant that the Board – on which they are not represented – does not speak for them.

Full acknowledgment to Skwawkbox for this story.

‘A slap in the face’ – Orthodox Jews ask Khan not to attend BoD dinner during protest

Skwawkbox, 8 October 2018

As the SKWAWKBOX revealed last month, representatives of London’s large Charedi (Orthodox) Jewish community plan to stage a protest outside the annual dinner of the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD). Charedi Jews represent over twenty percent of the UK’s Jewish population and many feel aggrieved that the BoD, in which they have no say, claims to speak on behalf of the UK’s Jewish people.

The BoD responded by trying to pressure members of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (UOHC) – the London-based group whose rabbis recently issued a letter in support of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – to abandon the planned protest. The rabbis’ letter was attacked as fake, but those accusations were eventually exposed as the letter’s authenticity was proven.

Now a new letter has been sent by Charedi representatives – this time to London mayor Sadiq Khan, asking him to respect their protest by not attending the BoD dinner, at which he is scheduled to be the guest of honour. The letter goes so far as to tell Khan it will be a ‘slap in the face’ to their community if he goes ahead with his planned attendance – and may cost him their support:

The Mayor of London should not attend Annual Dinner of the BoD due to Chareidi Jews’ protest

Dear Mayor Khan,

We write to you today to explain why you should cancel your engagement to attend the Annual Dinner of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. We shall be staging a protest outside the Dinner, in order to make our position known.

The BoD claims to represent the interests of all British Jews, however, this is most assuredly not the case. Because the BoD only represent voters who are affiliated to synagogues, they cannot truthfully claim to represent the majority of British Jews. In reality, they represent only around 20% of British Jews. The remaining 80% of Jews, a large proportion of which is made up by the Chareidi Jews, do not consider that their views are represented by the BoD. As you will probably know, there are 67,000 Chareidi Jews in Britain, with 45,000 of these living in London.

We urge you not to attend the Dinner, as this would be showing your support for what is, essentially, a group of fringe noise makers. We would also like to point out that you have never attended a Chareidi event and will most certainly lose our support if you do choose to attend the BoD Dinner.

In the Cazenove ward of Hackney, we recently supported 3 labour candidates to election, taking 3 seats that had been in Liberal Democrat hands for 24 years. This is just one example of how our community supports politicians who work for our good. If you attend the BoD Dinner, we would be unable to offer our support in your position as Mayor.

One example of how the BoD is disenfranchising our community is their stance on education. With 3 out of every 4 children in Jewish schools being Chareidi, these are strongholds of our tradition and of vital importance to us. The BoD is colluding (in all likelihood illegally) with Ofsted to destroy our community. We have a QC opinion in our possession confirming this.

Attending the BoD Dinner would be slap in the face to the Chareidi Jewish community. By attending, you would be drawing a red line and losing the support of the 45,000 Chareidi Jews of London. If you show your support for those who seek to destroy our community, we could never vote for you.

We fervently hope that you will reconsider attending the Annual Dinner of the BoD and instead show your support for the majority of British Jews.

Shraga Stern
On Behalf of Charedi Jewish community

However, it appears Mr Khan is unmoved. The mayor’s spokesperson responded to the SKWAWKBOX’s enquiry:

Sadiq was honoured to be asked to speak at the Board of Deputies dinner and is looking forward to attending. Our religious communities make a huge contribution to all aspects of life in our city and the Mayor is always keen to listen the many and varied views within different communities, address their concerns and support their hopes for the future.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

The Charedi letter puts Sadiq Khan in a difficult position, of course. But it also highlights the extent to which the UK’s Jewish community – and a couple of organisations that claim to speak for them – have been misrepresented to the public.

The Jewish community does not have a single opinion, nor does any organisation speak on behalf of all of them – and attempts to portray otherwise are themselves arguably antisemitic.

Will the Mayor of London acknowledge this and take the grievance of his Charedi constituents seriously?

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Comments (5)

  • Rick Hayward says:

    Perhaps the smart thing to do would be for Khan to attend the BoD binge (thus undermining one certain propaganda plank), but then attend a separate Charedi (or equivalent) event.

    That would give a platform for emphasising that the BoD is not representative of the whole community.

  • Dave says:

    Not so sure the Charedi community are natural Labour supporters given that in two wards they consistently elect Tory members. And there have been concerns about the private Jewish schools in Hackney. I’m against all faith schools though.

    See this article by someone who went to one of the schools:

  • Dave says:

    As they noted it was Cazenove ward. But that was held by the LibDems narrowly in 2014 and the Tory vote was very low there anyway in 2014 and 2018. If anything Tories have strengthened in Springfield and Stamford Hill West.

  • Eric Goodyer says:

    The BoD certainly do not ‘represent’ British Jews – no need to debate that. However they are a significant body that represents a section of the Community as he should attend. The issue here is to state that Jews are not a homogenous group of people with a single voice – and no single body can claim to represent us.

Comments are now closed.