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Leaders from across the British Jewish community convened in March at the annual JPR President’s lunch at the House of Lords, hosted by Lord Leigh, to discuss JPR’s current work and future plans.
In his address, JPR’s Executive Director, Dr Jonathan Boyd, discussed JPR’s research work with clients, outlining the importance for the Institute of undertaking work that relates directly to the needs and concerns of organisations working both within, and with, Jewish communities across Europe.
Reflecting back on where it all started, he remarked:
“I have long been a little sceptical about making large-scale judgements and recommendations from on-high – it’s not always obvious at whom they are directed, and they can often be a bit too broad brush for a community that is actually pretty diverse in several ways, not least religiously, ranging from the ardently secular to the strictly Orthodox. The same research finding can have very different implications for different organisations – the notion, for example, that we have seen a 20% drop in synagogue membership in this country since 1990, needs to be understood rather differently by different denominations, some of which have experienced even greater levels of decline over that period, whilst others have actually experienced significant growth – so a singular policy recommendation aimed at the community as a whole may not always be terribly helpful. So we began to explore the issue of whether we could use the data we either gather ourselves or have access to, to support the specific interests and questions of specific communal organisations.”
Boyd went on to talk about some of the clients JPR has undertaken work for, in the UK and abroad.
“Our clients were UK-based Jewish community only initially – in the past few years, we have undertaken studies for Jewish Care, UJIA, World Jewish Relief, the Jewish Chronicle, the Union of Jewish Students, Langdon, Partnerships for Jewish Schools, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Community Security Trust and many others; we have established a robust partnership with the Board of Deputies to ensure that data continue to be gathered and analysed on some of the most fundamental parts of Jewish life; whilst all the time simultaneously working to share our more general insights with representatives of numerous other community organisations across the country. Our work has touched on numerous issues: elderly care provision, demand for places in Jewish schools, learning disabilities, synagogue membership, social welfare, housing, identity development, antisemitism, community planning, fundraising, marketing and communications, to name but a few.
“And slowly, but surely, our reputation has grown. And not just in the UK, but abroad too. Indeed, to cut a long story short, today, right now, we are in the middle of a half-a-million Euro study for the European Union, looking at Jewish people’s perceptions and experiences of antisemitism in thirteen EU Member States, working in partnership with the global research agency, Ipsos. What that means, in practice, is that we are now working with Jewish leaders and organisations across Europe to generate data to help tackle antisemitism that is designed not just for the EU, but for the governments and Jewish communities of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden, as well as the UK. Moreover, we’re about to sign an agreement with the Rothschild Foundation, to establish a European Jewish Demography Unit at JPR, which will extend our efforts further, potentially reaching into the forty or so countries that comprise contemporary Europe.
“And looking beyond Europe, we have also just completed a research project for the National Library of Israel, which commissioned us to conduct a study to investigate how it might best go about sharing its extraordinary collection of materials in Jewish educational frameworks across the world; and we recently completed a study of the Jewish population of South Africa, working in partnership with the Kaplan Centre at the University of Cape Town, to support community planning there.”
JPR continues to see this type of work as central to its mission of providing empirical insights to shape community planning. If you are interested in commissioning JPR to do some work for your organisation, contact our Director of Operations, Richard Goldstein, at email@example.com.