Marie van der Zyl OBE is the second woman to have been elected President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the representative body of the UK Jewish Community. First elected President in 2018, she was re-elected for a second term in 2021. She is also the Vice President of the World Jewish Congress and their Commissioner for Gender Equality and Inclusion.
Marie has played a leading role in defending and protecting the UK Jewish Community during her time in office, including playing a crucial part in the fight against antisemitism in the Labour Party. She sat on the Labour Party Antisemitism Advisory Board.
Following an antisemitic attack on Oxford Street during Chanukah 2021, Marie brought the case of the BBC’s misreporting on the incident to the broadcast regulator OFCOM. The findings from Ofcom’s investigation, published in November 2022, validated the Jewish community’s concerns about the BBC’s coverage.
Marie also played a primary role in the establishment of the Board of Deputies Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish community. She is a trustee of several other charities, including the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and the Jewish Leadership Council.
She has made many radio and TV appearances, including on Newsnight and Question Time. In 2018, The Jerusalem Post ranked her as the 40th most influential Jew of that year.
During the pandemic, Marie spearheaded a successful campaign to amend legislation that could have resulted in the forced cremation of both Jewish and Muslim deceased, against the strictures of both faiths.
She was also at the forefront of the campaign against the so-called “cab-rank” policy, by which the Inner North London Coroner delayed the release of bodies to Jewish and Muslim families. The High Court subsequently ruled that this policy was discriminatory.
She was awarded an OBE for services to Faith and Integration in the 2023 New Year’s Honours List.
Marie, who represents the Jewish Lads and Girls’ Brigade (JLGB) on the Board of Deputies, has two daughters. In her professional life she works as a solicitor and is a partner in employment law at Ince GD LLP.
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