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Board of Deputies to hold emergency meeting on plight of the Uyghurs ahead of Parliamentary vote
The Board of Deputies is holding hold an emergency meeting for MPs on the plight of the Chinese Uyghurs ahead of an important vote which will take place in the House of Commons in the coming days.

In December, the House of Lords voted to add an amendment to a trade Bill. This amendment would revoke or prevent bilateral trade deals between the UK and any country which the High Court determines is carrying out a genocide. That bill will return to the House of Commons in the coming days, when MPs will get the opportunity to vote on this amendment.

The Board of Deputies, alongside many MPs from all of Westminster’s main political parties, believes that this amendment – which is directly aimed at the treatment of the Uyghurs in China – needs to be passed when it is considered by the House of Commons next week. The event, which will take place this afternoon at 4pm and will be live-streamed on the Board of Deputies social media channels, will include MPs such as Iain Duncan Smith, Tom Tugendhat, Nusrat Ghani and Christian Wakeford from the Conservatives, Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy from Labour, Alistair Carmichael for the Liberal Democrats and many others. Rahima Mahmut will speak on behalf of the World Uyghur Congress.
Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies, said:

“The horrors which are taking place in Xinjiang cannot be denied. As the Foreign Secretary said, ‘the evidence of the scale and severity of the human right violations against Uighur Muslims is now far reaching and paints a harrowing picture’.”

“We are not willing to stand aside and do nothing as millions of people are herded into concentration camps. As people, stigmatised for their ethnicity and religion, are made to do forced labour. As women are forcibly sterilised. As children are removed from their parents.

“We have seen this before. We know exactly where it can lead. And we urge the UK Government to listen to the many Conservative MPs who support this amendment. It is not too late to act. Together we can make the Chinese Government very much aware that should they continue in this way, there will be international consequences.”

Read the JC story here and the Jewish News report here.

To watch the event at 4pm, click here
Marie van der Zyl writes to Gavin Williamson in support of vaccinations for school staff
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl has written to Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson in support of teachers and school staff receiving a prioritised Covid-19 vaccination.

In the letter, Marie wrote: “All school teachers and staff deserve to have a safe environment in which to work. In addition, there is a strong economic argument for prioritising reopening of schools when virus transmission levels allow. For many parents with young children, it also verges on impossible to work at home whilst ensuring their children are continuing with learning.”

She added: “The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) note in their advice published on December 30th that after phase 1 of the vaccine programme, the next phase could prioritise ‘those delivering key public services’. It is our position that teachers and school staff most definitely fall into this category. We therefore call on teachers and school staff in all school settings to be prioritised in the next phase of the vaccine rollout and would be grateful for your support on this issue.”

You can read the letter here.
Nick Ross shares unseen documents of his father’s wartime internment at the Jewish Heirlooms Roadshow

Broadcaster Nick Ross shared previously unseen documents chronicling his father’s time in an Australian internment camp during the Second World War at the Board of Deputies’ Hidden Treasures Jewish Heirlooms Roadshow on Sunday.

At the online event, attended by more than 1,700 people, historian Dr Rachel Pistol discussed the material – which includes a plan of Hay Camp 7 belonging to Hans Rosenbluth (Nick’s father), a 3-D paper model he made of Hut 26 where he lived and greetings cards produced by his fellow internees, featuring caricatures of Hans. The inmates of Hut 26 were known as the Roebucks, after a pub in Richmond, London. Rachel outlined the background – several thousand young men were sent to Australia in July 1940 on the Dunera, a British ship, to be interned as so-called ‘enemy aliens’ during World War 2. The internment of all German-born males was a panic reaction to fear of Nazi invasion in 1940, and resulted in the imprisonment of thousands of Jews and other anti-fascists, many of whom, like Hans Rosenbluth, eventually volunteered for the British armed forces.

Nick Ross said: “We discovered this material in a black case when we were going through our late parents belongings. Hans was the Postmaster and the Secretary of the Camp so there is a huge amount of documentation, some of which can be seen at the Migration Museum in Lewisham until June 2021.”

Dr Pistol said: “Nick has a treasure trove of material about Hay and his father’s archive gives us great insight into day to day life in the camp.”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said “We are delighted to be leading the Hidden Treasures project, celebrating Jewish archives in Britain and are grateful to Nick Ross and Dr Rachel Pistol for sharing this fascinating story.”

You can watch a recording of the event here.
Chief Executive Gillian Merron announces her departure following life peerage

Board of Deputies Chief Executive Gillian Merron has announced that she will be leaving the organisation after six-and-a-half years in the role following the announcement that she is to be elevated to the House of Lords as a Life Peer.

Gillian will be departing from the Board of Deputies on 2 April. Her interim successor will be Michael Wegier, the former Chief Executive of leading Jewish charity, the UJIA.

To read a full report, click here. The Jewish News story is here  and the Jewish Chronicle article here.

COMMUNITY IN FOCUS: Muswell Hill Synagogue

For more 100 years, there have been Jewish families in Muswell Hill with the first temporary Synagogue in the famous Athenaeum on Muswell Hill Broadway. In the 1960’s, the Athenaeum became a Sainsbury's supermarket and a new modernist building was designed in Tetherdown under the work of Joseph Mendelssohn and the Rabbinic lead of Rabbi Samuel Brazil.

Now, in 2020, Muswell Hill Synagogue is a growing, flourishing and happy community. It is led by Rabbi David Mason who was brought up in Edinburgh, received two degrees from the LSE before moving to Israel to study to become a Rabbi. Rabbi David, as he likes to be called, returned to lead Kingston, Surbiton and District Synagogue in 2003, moving to Muswell Hill in 2008. He recently added another degree, by studying an MA in Conflict Resolution in Divided Societies at Kings College.

To read the full article, click here.

Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg attended a roundtable on the Coronavirus Vaccine programme with Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi MP and Faiths Minister Lord Stephen Greenhalgh. Phil asked about lessons to be learnt from the Israel rollout example and urged the prioritisation of funeral workers, teachers and school staff for the vaccine.
Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg and Government, Regional and Religious Affairs Officer Daniel Elton worked with the Cabinet Office to convene a roundtable with Charedi community stakeholders from Stamford Hill, North West London, Manchester, Gateshead and Canvey Island to discuss the new coronavirus regulations and work on getting out accurate information to communities.
Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg attended a briefing with Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health England Regional Director for London and Deputy Mayor of London Debbie Weekes-Bernard to learn about the spread of coronavirus in the capital.
Regional Coronavirus Advice Capacity Help (Co-Ach) Manager Sara Radivan met David Selo and Louise Mordecai, Deputy and Chair of Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue to discuss further Deputy engagement and future work together. 
Regional Coronavirus Advice Capacity Help (Co-Ach) Manager Sara Radivan, Community Engagement Officer Lauren Keiles and Archives and Heritage Manager Dawn Waterman met Ed Horwich, Director and Zoe Soraff, Events and Programme Manager of the Jewish Small Communities Network, to discuss future work together.   
Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg, Public Affairs Officer Daniel Sugarman and Regional Coronavirus Advice Capacity Help (Co-Ach) Manager Sara Radivan met Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South to discuss Jewish issues of local and national interest. Also in attendance were Michael Samson, Deputy for Nottingham Hebrew Congregation, Josh Collins, President of Nottingham JSoc and Amanda Sefton, UJS Sabbatical Officer. 
Senior Vice President Sheila Gewolb, Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg, Government, Regional and Religious Affairs Officer Daniel Elton and Regional Coronavirus Advice Capacity Help (Co-Ach) Manager Sara Radivan met members of the Welsh Jewish community and Deputies to talk about political developments in Wales affecting the Jewish community in advance of the forthcoming elections. You can see a photo here.
President Marie van der ZylSenior Vice President Sheila Gewolb and Regional Coronavirus Advice Capacity Help (Co-Ach) Manager Sara Radivan attended the Regional Deputies Assembly. Sara Radivan delivered a report about work undertaken. The Regional Deputies Assembly is chaired by Paul Edlin. 

Community Engagement Officer Lauren Keiles met Oshrit Cowan and Rachel Joseph from the S&P Sephardi Community to discuss future work together.

Community Engagement Officer Lauren Keiles met with Rabbi Sanor Milun and Michelle Barnett from GIFT to discuss future work.

Community Engagement Officer Lauren Keiles met Chair of Richmond Synagogue Malcolm Levi and Iryna Mushkina, the Richmond Jewish Cultural Hub Coordinator, to discuss future areas of work.
Community Engagement Officer Lauren Keiles met Carol Hart from the Association of Jewish Refugees to discuss future areas of work together.
Chief Executive of The United Synagogue, Steven Wilson presented to the Board of Deputies professional staff team in a “Bitesize Training” session about the work the United Synagogue undertakes. The training session also helps to strengthen the working relationship between the two organisations. 

Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg and Interfaith and Social Action Manager Anthony Silkoff met Bob Fyffe and Peter Colwell, General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, to discuss opportunities for Christian-Jewish engagement in 2021.

Vice-President Edwin Shuker and Interfaith and Social Action Manager Anthony Silkoff met Imam Qari Asim, the Government’s advisor on Islamophobia, to discuss current challenges and opportunities in Muslim-Jewish relations.
Education Policy and Youth Engagement Officer Jake Berger spoke at a virtual conference organised by the Westminster Education Forum on the topic of taking account of faith considerations in relationships and sex education.
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