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UAE, Bahraini and Israeli ambassadors come together for historic Chanukah ceremony
In a historic first this week, the ambassadors of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel gathered together in the presence of Middle East and North Africa Minister James Cleverly MP for a live, online Chanukah reception.

The three ambassadors all lit Chanukah candles at the event entitled ‘Chanukah in a New Light’ organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish News. It follows on from the historic signing of the Abrahamic Accords between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain earlier this year.

This is also a historic collaboration between Jewish and Arab media in the UK, Israel, Bahrain and the UAE with the Jewish News in London, the Khaleej Times in Dubai and the Times of Israel in Jerusalem livestreaming the event to millions of followers.

United Arab Emirates Ambassador, Mansoor Abulhoul thanked the UK Jewish community for the kindness and for the spirit of collaboration that that had been extended to him and his colleagues. He added: “The light that we lit this year was the historic Abraham Accords, when the UAE, Israel and Bahrain, forged a new path. We believe it will help bring peace and prosperity to a region that desperately needs it.”

Bahraini Ambassador Shaikh Fawaz bin Muhammad Al Khalifa, speaking from the residence of Huda Nonoo, Bahrain’s Jewish former ambassador to the United States, said: “In a year when hope has often seemed in short supply, the Abraham Accords are a reason to look ahead with at least some confidence, towards the possibility of a new era of peace for the Middle East, and an era of understanding between all the faiths and peoples of our region.”

Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa
James Cleverly MP said: “A great cause of hope is the recent normalisation between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain as well as Sudan and most recently Morocco. The UK is proud to have been one of the first countries to welcome these agreements. We are committed to ensuring that these agreements are an enduring success and we will work closely with Israel, the UAE and Bahrain to promote shared prosperity and regional stability and security.”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl told guests that, during an unprecedented time of crisis, being able to host this historic occasion “embodies the true spirit and miracle of Chanukah.”

She added: “During a year of difficulty and darkness for us all, the Abraham Accords and the subsequent agreements with Sudan and Morocco, heralded a new light. Tonight’s event celebrates that remarkable achievement and the possibilities it brings.”

During the event, at which Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer was Master of Ceremonies, Cantor Jonny Turgel led the singing of traditional Chanukah songs Hanerot Halalu and Maoz Tzur, while the Sacks Morasha Jewish Primary School choir, named for the late Rabbi Lord Sacks, ended the reception with the song ‘Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu’ (Peace will yet come to us).

Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely said “This is a new era in the history of the Middle East, where we can get to know each other as neighbours and friends and create more prosperity for our peoples. As we celebrate the light of Chanukah, let us celebrate the bright future peace is bringing to our region, and look to the future with hope and optimism.”

To watch the whole event, click here. Read the Jewish News story here and the Khaleej Times report here.
Board of Deputies President welcomes Government decision to fine those who breach Online Harms legislation but sounds warning on antisemitism
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl has reacted the Government’s decision to fine those who breach Online Harms legislation.

Marie said: “We welcome the Government’s confirmation that heavy fines will be levied on all social media companies operating in the UK who breach Online Harms legislation. But, with regards to antisemitism, this legislation may fall short unless the newly appointed social media regulator adopts the IHRA definition of antisemitism and judges companies’ protection of Jewish users against that standard.”

Read the JC story here.
Morocco’s decision to establish formal ties with Israel given welcome
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl has welcomed the decision of Morocco to establish relations with Israel.

Marie said: "Today, Israel has hundreds of thousands of Jewish citizens of Moroccan ancestry, whose families fled persecution following the establishment of the State of Israel. The news that Morocco has formally recognised Israel therefore carries special significance and represents an opportunity to anchor the long-standing connection between Morocco and the Jewish people and formalise a rich and deep shared history. We hope that many more nations will join this path to peace in the region and that this will help lead to a strong and lasting peace between Israel and all her neighbours." 
Pikuach postpones further inspections until the summer term 2021

Pikuach, the Board of Deputies body responsible for inspecting Jewish education in maintained Jewish schools, has announced that it is further suspending its section 48 inspections due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Inspections had previously been delayed until the start of 2020 due to the pandemic, but this period of suspension has been extended until the start of the summer term 2021. The suspension of inspections means that there will be some schools whose next inspection will come after the statutorily-required five year period, but discussions held with the Department for Education have confirmed that no schools will be penalised for this due to the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic.

Read a full report here, the Jewish News story here  and the JC article here.

This week, Hidden Treasures, the Board of Deputies’ celebration of Jewish archives in Britain, shared this silver menorah which is believed to have been owned by Nathan Mayer Rothschild around 1800. It was discovered in the vaults at old New Court and is from the collection of The Rothschild Archive in the City of London.
Senior Vice President Sheila Gewolb and International Relations Officer Talia Ingleby attended a virtual celebration of the Kingdom of Bahrain's National Day celebrations, which featured a message from Bahrain Ambassador Sheikh Fawaz Mohammed Al Khalifa and a look at Bahrain's culture, culinary scene and traditional music. 

Senior Vice President Sheila Gewolb, Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg and International Relations Officer Talia Ingleby held a virtual meeting with Polish Ambassador Arkady Józef Rzegocki to discuss matters of concern including the protection of shechita in Poland, Holocaust revisionism and restitution. 

International Relations Officer Talia Ingleby attended the Directors' Meeting of the European Jewish Congress, which included a special report from Serge Berdugo, President of the Council of Moroccan Jewish Communities, to reflect on the recent normalisation of relations between the Kingdom of Morocco and the State of Israel.
Chief Executive Gillian Merron met Minister of State for Digital and Culture Caroline Dinenage MP with communal CEO colleagues following the publication of the Online Harms Bill.

Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg, Public Affairs Officer Daniel Sugarman, Alan Kay, Chair of SCoJeC and Paul Edlin, Chair of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, met Kirsten Oswald, MP for East Renfrewshire, to discuss issues of importance to the Jewish community, including online harms and the community’s relationship to Israel.
Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg and Public Affairs Officer Daniel Sugarman met an official at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to discuss the Government’s response to the Online Harms White Paper and potential next steps regarding certain items of interest for the Jewish community in this matter.
Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg met Daniel Kosky, Director of the London Jewish Forum, to discuss communal advocacy in London.
Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg and Government, Regional and Religious Affairs Officer Daniel Elton met the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)’s Chair Alan Kay and Director Ephraim Borowski; the President of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council Paul Edlin and the  JLC’s Scotland Manager Daniel Bett to discuss communal advocacy in Scotland.

Ari Jesner, CEO of the Office of the Chief Rabbi, presented to the Board of Deputies professional staff team in a 'Bitesize Training' session to strengthen work between both organisations. 

Regional Coronavirus Advice Capacity Help (Co-Ach) Manager Sara Radivan met Ilana Davis, Yoni Ehrlich and Clive Neuberg - Deputy, Under 35 Observer and Chair of Birmingham Progressive Synagogue - to discuss further Deputy engagement and future work together.

Regional Coronavirus Advice Capacity Help (Co-Ach) Manager Sara Radivan joined the Jewish Small Communities Network weekly coffee morning where she delivered a round of questions in the quiz.   
President Marie van der Zyl celebrated Chanukah with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and communal colleagues at a socially distanced ceremony in Trafalgar Square. See photos here.

President Marie van der Zyl and Senior Vice President Sheila Gewolb attended the City Of London Chanukah celebration.

President Marie van der Zyl celebrated Chanukah with the Mill Hill East community.

President Marie van der Zyl celebrated Chanukah with the West London Synagogue. Guests included Simon Sharma, Lord Mitchell. Rabbi Helen Freeman and David Mitchell. 

Vice President Amanda Bowman and Regional Coronavirus Advice Capacity Help (Co-Ach) Manager Sara Radivan joined Birmingham Progressive Synagogue for the lighting of candles on the first night of Chanukah.
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