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Over the past 300 years British Jews have established well-developed representative structures. However, there is an increasing recognition that we are in a period of rapid change, which has placed considerable strain on the historic central representative structures: the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Chief Rabbinate. Vocal and variegated interest groups, ranging from the strictly Orthodox to the progressive, claim that the current modes of representation fail to include them or speak for their interests.
Questions have been raised as to why Jewish representative institutions have been unable to defuse tensions and resolve disputes that frequently surface in the public sphere. In addition, new organizations are continually emerging to address the wider society on matters of Jewish interest.
Finally, many individuals—particularly women, the younger generation and the unaffiliated—feel disenfranchised. Aware that decisions taken by others affect them, they do not believe that they have the means of influencing those decisions. They also do not feel the present representational structures meet their needs.
The Commission asked: ‘For what sort of British Jewry is representation being undertaken?’ The answer was: a community in transition.politics demography identity community affiliation leadership representation