Jonathan Arkush tells United Synagogue Council: ‘We need to face up to common challenges’

Jonathan Arkush has become the first Board of Deputies President in living memory to address the United Synagogue Council.

Jonathan told the council, which is made up of representatives from every synagogue within the organisation, that the Jewish community needed to adapt to face “common challenges”.

Alongside his remarks on the Board’s role in protecting and defending the community, citing attacks on shechita, brit milah and Israel, he gave some more personal reflections.

He said: “The world around us is changing and if you don’t adapt you die. We need to work out how we can recreate the vitality and dynamism of Halachah. I worry it is becoming fossilised – a fossil is an artefact whose essential quality is that it is dead. That is not the future for our community.”

Jonathan, a member of Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue, added: “We live in the 21st century and cannot ignore the challenges it throws up. The role of women in today’s world, for example, raises issues for our community that cannot be ducked. We need to be able to apply a creative Halachic approach to the issues confronting us and find solutions. I also think we need to rediscover an openness of approach in how we engage with each other and the outside world. I dislike the suggestion of a gulf in the United Synagogue between viewpoints labelled ‘modern orthodox’ and ‘Charedi’. We are all Jews and we face common challenges which we have to work together to solve”.

Jonathan also said that there was nothing to fear from taking different viewpoints within the community. “Diversity is a strength. We can disagree as long as that conversation is respectful and without personal animosity.”

Keep Informed

Sign up for our weekly briefing, delivered to your inbox every Thursday, giving you up to date news on events and activists of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, as well as the activities of member organisations and partners. 
Subscribe to Community Briefing

Donate

The Board of Deputies relies on the generous support of the Jewish community through individual contributions and donations. Help us be the voice of the British Jewish community by donating today. All funds received go to our core charitable mission.
Donate
CONTACT US

The Board of Deputies of British Jews
tel: +44 (0)20 7543 5400
email: info@bod.org.uk

Registered Office
2nd Floor
55 Ludgate Hill
London
UNITED KINGDOM
EC4M 7JW

Press Office
tel: +44 (0)20 7543 5437
mobile: +44 (0)7957 962 080
email: simon.round@bod.org.uk

Join Us

Is your synagogue or organisation thinking of joining the Board of Deputies?

Contact: representation@bod.org.uk for further information about what is involved, the election timetable and procedures.

Charitable activities with which the Board are identified are funded by The Board of Deputies Charitable Foundation (Registered Charity No. 1058107), a company limited by guarantee and registered in England (No. 3239086). © Board of Deputies of British Jews, 2023.