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Lay and professional leaders from across the Jewish religious spectrum convened today at the annual JPR President’s Lunch at the House of Lords.
Introducing the event, Lord Haskel spoke of the importance of getting government, the police, local authorities and public services to address the many issues affecting the Jewish community, and noted the valuable work JPR does in this regard, “not by confrontation or by quoting the Equality Act, but by logical argument.”
And in his address, JPR’s Executive Director Dr Jonathan Boyd, spoke about “a tough year for the Jewish community” which saw “a wave of antisemitism the like of which has not been seen in this country for many years.” He pointed out that the Community Security Trust recorded 1,168 antisemitic incidents in the UK in 2014, the highest number on record, and noted that “whilst, to date, the British Jewish community has been spared the type of Islamist murders we have seen in France, Belgium and Denmark recently, there is very clearly a sense of concern as people ponder the question of whether the same thing could happen here.”
However, he cautioned against blindly accepting the growing number of research findings that are being issued about antisemitism, noting that many are flawed “either from a methodological point of view, or an analytical one, or both.” He announced that JPR will be doing much more work in this area going forward, with a very clear eye on trying to address the concerns that are being expressed by members of the Jewish community. He maintained that “the purpose of gathering data about contemporary antisemitism must not be to generate widespread anxiety – or, for that matter, widespread complacency – but rather to empirically and soberly assess the magnitude of the danger in order to figure out what we, as community leaders, and we, as British Jews, should practically do.”
At the same time, he noted that JPR won’t be taking its eye off its other agenda items – not least, the changing nature of British and European Jewish demographic and sociological realities and how communal charities should respond to the changes that can be seen and anticipated. He stated: “Elderly people and disadvantaged children still need to be cared for; young people still need to be educated; shuls still need to provide for their members; charities still need to raise funds. And JPR will still be in all of these places, contributing our findings and our analysis whenever we can, to help the community make the most sensible policy decisions it can, based on the best possible analysis of contemporary and projected reality.”
JPR Chairman, Stephen Moss, concluded the event by stressing the importance of the relationship between JPR and community charities. He noted that by commissioning JPR to undertake research, charities are not only getting valuable data and analysis for their own internal purposes, they are also helping to maintain the research infrastructure of the Jewish community.