Monday, 21 May 2012

Deputy Amanda - Amanda Ruback's blog about her Board of Deputies journey. Follow her on twitter @amandaruback1
Yesterday (Sunday) I put a tentative toe into the water attending my first Board of Deputies (BoD) meeting as an observer. I wanted to be there when the new Vice Presidents were voted in and of course, get a sense of how the Board works.
This year's elections had a different vibe.  A group of predominantly 'young' people came together to create a social network around 'ChangetheBoard' and all the vice presidential candidates had manifestos that advocated change - whether it be around the formality and format of BoD meetings, around the role and engagement of women and young people, about reaching out to the unaffiliated jew and of course, working on the issues around Israel differently from before.  
And of course, all these things and more need addressing.  The BoD should operate to the same standards that forward looking effective organisations are working to in the private, public and voluntary sector.  The formality and processes that were the norm for many of the 'older' people in the room will continue to alienate the increasing number of younger Deputies.  Why for example are reports read out to the room when they had already been issued in advance; why too do Deputies feel the need to make their own little speeches in the guise of asking questions about those reports?  We need to build on the success of the election campaigning with regular webstreaming of meetings and 'new' ways for people to join Division meetings via web and audio conferencing.
As for the elections, each of the candidates had the chance to address the Deputies and then respond to questions.  Some seemed more prepared than others and presentation counts.  But the real spirit of the room came over with Deputies' questions to the candidates.  Some of the behaviour was shameful - personal vendettas, bigotry and vitriole, with the room cheering and jeering.  In your Deputy's opinion, this does not move us forward the way we need to go - working together as a team.  If there is only one reason why we needed a woman at the top table it would be because women leaders are proven to be better communicators, better at building relationships, collaboration and teams and championing change.  
This seemed to be the majority feeling in the room as demonstrated by the results: Senior Vice President going to Laura Marks - the founder of Mitzvah Day which we are proud to support at The Hampstead Synagogue, along with Alex Brummer and Jonathan Arkush.  Our Jerry Lewis lost out this time, but I look forward to having him alongside me on the 'back benches'.
So how do I feel today after a short opportunity to reflect?  There's a huge amount to do; and I am hopeful that the new top table will be angling for the change that's needed.  As for me, I hope I can find a way to play my part and get stuck in at the first opportunity.

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