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FOREWORD

The Jewish Leadership Council connects and coordinates the Jewish charitable sector, strengthens and supports leadership across our community, and magnifies and amplifies the collective voice of our member organisations. The Council comprises the Chairs or Presidents of those organisations, and the Council elects a Board of Trustees for a three-year term. The JLC represents only its members – the organisations that have chosen to join the Council.


The Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester & Region was established in 1919.  For over 100 years, the Council has been responsible for representing, protecting, uniting, defending and serving the Manchester Jewish community. The Jewish Representative Council is a member of the JLC.


A Coronavirus Response Group was initially established to facilitate the communal response to the pandemic.  Due to its unprecedented success, the group’s membership rapidly increased and it has now been formally constituted and renamed as the Jewish Strategic Group of Greater Manchester.  The group derives its membership from a diverse cross section of the Greater Manchester community alongside representatives from local and national government, Greater Manchester Police and the Clinical Commissioning Groups.  The group meets regularly to voice concerns and discuss areas of collaboration between the community and representatives from wider society.


The Jewish community has enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority since its inception in May 2017.  The transformative nature of the new administration has already implemented ambitious policies that have undoubtedly created positive change for our city.  We are grateful for the close collaboration between the Combined Authority and Jewish communal organisations.  Our concerns have always been listened to and acted upon in good faith.

 

We are clear that the success of our community is closely tied to that of our neighbours.  This became patently clear during 2020.  Like other minorities, the Jewish community was disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and tragically many lost their lives.  Our whole community continues to share the pain of those affected from any walk of life.

We mobilised to establish a Coronavirus Response Group composed of representatives from our whole diverse community.  We were grateful for the unwavering support from the Combined Authority who worked alongside colleagues from local and national government to support the vulnerable from within our community.  This has further developed into a Strategic Group that meets regularly to act as an effective forum between our whole community and those tasked with looking after our wellbeing.

The Greater Manchester Jewish community is not immune to the pressures faced by all communities.  There are concerns around housing, security, social care and community cohesion, to name a few.  Key communal partners have assisted with the drafting of this manifesto.  It has been designed to ensure elected officials and public servants are understanding of the pressing issues affecting Jewish people living in Greater Manchester.

The current climate makes strong relationships between the community and elected politicians crucial.  It is hoped that the key asks highlighted in this manifesto will become the foundation of the work to be undertaken following this election.  Furthermore, we commit to working alongside all communities to deliver a safe, cohesive, inclusive and shared Greater Manchester that everyone can enjoy.

Russell Conn – President – Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester & Region
Mark Adlestone OBE DL – Chair – Jewish Strategic Group of Greater Manchester
Marc Levy – CEO JRC Manchester & region / External Affairs Manager – Jewish Leadership Council

 GREATER MANCHESTER’S JEWISH COMMUNITY

Manchester’s Jewish community has formed an integral part of the city for over 250 years.  In the late 18th Century, formal communal structures were established and ever since, the Manchester Jewish community has continued to thrive.  Manchester boasts a vibrant and growing Jewish population that will likely number in excess of 30,000 at the next census.

The city continues to be an attractive option for Jewish families from not just across the UK but also from around the world owing to the excellent facilities enjoyed by the community.  Greater Manchester is a fantastic and welcoming place to be Jewish.  The infrastructure means all needs are catered for with a substantial number of shops, synagogues, schools, care homes, restaurants and community centres.

For a number of religious, cultural and family reasons, Jewish communities will always cluster in small geographical areas and Greater Manchester is no different.  The vast majority of Jewish people reside in the local authorities of Salford and Bury.  There is also a sizeable Jewish presence in Trafford and Stockport along with a rapidly increasing number of Jewish residents in the Crumpsall Ward of Manchester City Council.

The Jewish community continues to develop and evolve with many new and innovative initiatives.  However, we are not immune from the difficulties and challenges being faced by other minority groups.  A particular long standing grievance revolves around the inability to obtain uniform provisions between different local authorities.  Strictly enforced boundary lines, especially between Salford, Bury and Manchester, create frustration as near neighbours are unable to access the same services – and of course there are many Jews living in other boroughs within Greater Manchester.

Throughout this manifesto, we will be examining all aspects of communal life with a number of pledges designed to ensure that Greater Manchester continues to be an inviting place to be Jewish.

 EDUCATION AND YOUNG PEOPLE

Lifelong Jewish learning is a unifying concept across all streams of Judaism and Jewish communities.  It manifests itself in Greater Manchester’s Jewish schools, multiple youth movements and religious institutions.  Education and skills are consistently amongst the community’s key concerns.

The overwhelming majority of Jewish children attend a Jewish school giving them the opportunity to enjoy a Jewish education rooted in British values and the national curriculum.  There are approximately 31 Jewish schools based in Greater Manchester, of which almost two thirds are independent. School league tables demonstrate that faith schools are among the most successful in the country. Their high performance reflects the importance of having a clear ethos and moral values deeply embedded within an educational framework, which are core to any faith school. The discipline of and focus on mind and spirit associated with these principles has a discernibly positive impact on the performance of students.

We firmly believe that teaching secular and religious subjects alongside one another creates balanced well-rounded students.  The state-supported schools pride themselves on being models of best practice, promoting links between schools of all faiths and none, ensuring children understand and appreciate individuals with backgrounds that differ from their own.

The demand on Jewish school places continues to outstrip supply and a clear commitment to funding Jewish-based education is required from local and national government.  This will ensure that the growing population of Jews has the opportunity to attend a school of their choice.  The increase in pupil numbers has led to schools across Salford and Bury either expanding their present sites or on occasion to build completely new facilities.  Therefore, a planning regime that supports the growth and expansion of schools should be facilitated.

It is essential that school children across Greater Manchester continue to learn about the atrocities committed during the Holocaust.  It is pleasing that every year, more schools and colleges formally mark Holocaust Memorial Day.  In 2021, despite the obvious restrictions owing to the ongoing pandemic, all local authorities including the Combined Authority undertook formal events to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.  It is important that local school children continue to participate in the ceremonies.  This teaches students why it is imperative to fight prejudice and intolerance wherever it manifests.  To further educate our young people, the Holocaust element of the national curriculum should be fully implemented.  We also encourage all secondary schools to engage with the Lessons from Auschwitz Project operated by the Holocaust Education Trust.

The Jewish community has a long-established provision for young people.  It is highly developed and reaches around 20,000 young people annually.  These youth groups have formed part of the fabric of Jewish communal life for generations.  The work of these organisations equip young Jews with the skills necessary to be active and contributing members of their communities and wider society.

PLEDGE 1 To support and champion Jewish schools in Greater Manchester, planning for future continued population growth and greater numbers of Jewish school places by having a flexible and supportive planning regime.

PLEDGE 2 To encourage schools across Greater Manchester to engage with their local authorities to formally mark Holocaust Memorial Day and participate in the Lessons from Auschwitz Project.

PLEDGE 3 To continue providing local authority funding for Jewish youth organisations in their contribution both to the Jewish community and through social action to the general population and to encourage their continued support by local government and agencies within the city.

 COMMUNITY SAFETY AND ANTISEMITISM

Manchester is a vibrant, multicultural city, in which all components of the Jewish community rightly play an integral and confident part.  Whilst retaining their own traditions and cultures, the community is fully integrated into the fabric of mainstream society.  There is a firm commitment to establishing good relations with our neighbours by proactively promoting tolerance and understanding.

However, sadly there has been an increase in recorded incidents of antisemitism across the Greater Manchester region.  The Community Security Trust (CST) works closely with Greater Manchester Police and is responsible for recording antisemitic incidents across the country.  Its latest report highlighted 153 incidents across Greater Manchester in 2020.  In no Police region did assaults form a greater proportion of the total antisemitic incident count than they did in Greater Manchester.

As with all Jewish communities in the UK, a significant threat to Greater Manchester’s Jews comes in the form of terrorism.  Tragically, Manchester has seen first-hand the devastating effects of terrorist attacks within the city.  As has been shown in Halle (October 2019), Pittsburgh (October 2018), Copenhagen (February 2015), Paris (January 2015), Brussels (May 2014) and Toulouse (March 2012), there is a specific terrorist threat to Jewish communities across the globe from both the Far Right along with Al Qaeda and ISIS inspired terrorists.

This fuels longstanding legitimate concerns from the community regarding its security and the levels of antisemitism.  Since 2010, successive Governments have helped alleviate the burden of elevated security costs to the Jewish community by financially contributing to protect grant-maintained Jewish schools.  In 2015, this was extended to offer provision to all Jewish schools and an additional provision was made for the cost of providing commercial security guards to other sensitive communal locations.

The increase is keenly felt in Greater Manchester owing to its significant Jewish population and concentration of communal buildings. It is exacerbated by the emotional impact of extreme anti-Israel activity such as the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.  The campaign does nothing to promote community cohesion and can often bring hate-fuelled rhetoric to the streets of Greater Manchester.  It can adversely affect Jewish life, for example in instances of kosher sections of supermarkets being defaced along with a hostile environment being experienced by Jewish students on campus.  Historically, there have also been troubling incidents of Jewish shops and department stores being targeted by the campaign solely because they stocked Israeli products.  Understandable unease is also created when protesters fly flags and display sympathy with internationally proscribed terrorist organisations like Hamas and Hezbollah.

The Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) has worked closely with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to ensure the body was one of the first in the country to adopt the internationally recognised International Holocaust and Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.  The JLC has also worked with local authorities across the city and alongside CST with Greater Manchester Police to ensure that the definition is both adopted and fully implemented.  This definition, of which the examples form an inseparable part, is regarded by experts as the standard bearer when identifying contemporary antisemtism and how it is presently manifesting itself.

Another striking aspect of the recent reports prepared by CST revolves around the increase in antisemitic content online.  In the first six months of 2020, antisemitic incidents online were the highest single type of incident recorded by CST.  In addition, it is now simple to access inciteful and violent antisemitic material online, raising the concern that individuals can be and are being radicalised in their homes. This is exacerbated by the restrictions on movement during the Coronavirus pandemic.  Communal partners have worked with the social media companies and have welcomed recent developments such as the banning of Holocaust denial and distortion on Facebook and Twitter.  However, it is accepted that legislation is required to ensure that social media becomes a safe space for users.  Consequently, the community is keeping a close eye on the forthcoming Online Harms legislation which it is hoped will address these serious concerns.

 

PLEDGE 4 In light of the increased security threat level to the Jewish community, to ensure that combating antisemitism and hate crime remains a priority across Greater Manchester.  There should be a continued focus on terrorism prevention and community resilience, and the work of the CST, including the provision of services to support victims of antisemitic hate crime.

PLEDGE 5 To uphold and implement the IHRA definition on antisemitism.

PLEDGE 6 To call for social media companies to take seriously their responsibility to their users by immediately removing harmful antisemitic and racist content.

PLEDGE 7 To publicly oppose the creation of a hostile atmosphere to the Jewish community, whether this takes place on university campuses or by way of demonstrations that support antisemitic terrorist organisations.

PLEDGE 8 To engage with Jewish communal bodies and stakeholders that deliver inter-community relations.

PLEDGE 9 To campaign to ensure the Government’s Protective Security Grant for the Jewish community continues.

 

 HOUSING AND PLANNING POLICY

The pressure on housing in Greater Manchester continues to be a significant issue for the city’s population.  The Combined Authority will look to address this by implementing the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

Geographically, the vast majority of the Jewish community resides in a small part of the city.  As a consequence, the availability of housing is low which drives up prices.  This has been further exacerbated by schemes implemented by government to stimulate the housing market during the Coronavirus pandemic.  Owing to the shortage of housing in high density Jewish population centres, the cost of buying an appropriate property has vastly increased.  With such strong communal infrastructure in Greater Manchester, it is also an attractive proposition to families from London.  Many have looked to take advantage of the inflated property prices in the capital by moving north meaning they gain a far bigger property for quite often a reduced financial commitment.  The net result is that young people are being forced to reside a considerable distance away from their families and community.

This difficulty is exacerbated for observant Orthodox Jews who cannot travel in vehicles on the Sabbath and other Jewish festivals.  Therefore, it is problematic if synagogues and other family members are not within walking distance.  For those observant Orthodox Jews it is also not permitted to carry objects outside of the home without an eruv.  This is a symbolic boundary predominantly invisible to the naked eye of wires running along steel poles.  This simulated boundary extends the domain of a household into public areas.  This simple solution allows Orthodox Jews to carry belongings and push children in prams.  We are grateful to the local authorities of Bury, Salford, Manchester and Trafford who have facilitated the building of eruvim.  In Stockport, plans have been approved by the local authority to build its first eruv.

In addition, larger families continue to struggle to find accommodation that can adequately house all of their children.  The changes to welfare provision have also led to a challenging financial environment.  It can sometimes be difficult for families to obtain planning permission to extend properties.  This once again leads to suitable accommodation being sought outside of their communities.

The situation has become even more complex due to the cost of renting a home in Greater Manchester having sharply increased since 2016.  It has therefore predictably become impossible for wages to keep up with the cost of renting an adequate home.  This ultimately leads to families living in accommodation that is unsuitable for their needs.  The community has also faced pressure from unscrupulous landlords who take advantage of the demand for properties.

The Jewish community is proud to champion affordable housing through established organisations like the Manchester Jewish Housing Association.  It is able to point to the obvious success following the development on the site where Mamlock House once stood.  This has provided much needed housing for the ultra-Orthodox community within a short walk to all essential amenities.  It is a strongly held belief that affordable housing strengthens communities, regenerates areas and benefits the local economy.  It is also hoped that when new land becomes available, affordable housing organisations will be given priority to purchase and develop the land for the benefit of all local communities.

PLEDGE 10 To commit to and provide for the specific housing needs of the Jewish community alongside the needs of our non-Jewish neighbours with new affordable housing projects for purchase and rent.

PLEDGE 11 To ensure that new housing includes dwellings for larger families located in areas close to communal facilities.

PLEDGE 12 To make planning policy less rigid to allow larger families to extend their homes.

PLEDGE 13 To work closely with the community and employ a flexible approach to the building of eruvim in future.

 HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE

Uniquely, the Mayor of Greater Manchester has the power to make a fundamental difference to the providers of social care services across the region.  Since its inception, the community and our social care providers have worked closely with the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.  Owing to the budget being operated on a local level, we encourage the Health and Social Care Partnership to continue this intimate working relationship.  Whilst budgets are stretched, this will enable those taking decisions on funding to ensure maximum value for money is obtained.

It has been well publicised that the UK population is ageing creating challenges to those organisations responsible for looking after the elderly.  The Jewish community in Greater Manchester has a significantly higher proportion of residents who are aged over 50.  In addition, there are double the number of people who are over the age of 60 compared to the general UK population.  Greater Manchester Jewry has always taken great pride in looking after its elderly members, but current demographics create certain challenges.

The Jewish community in Greater Manchester is fortunate to be able to rely upon The Fed located at Heathlands Village.  Through extensive fundraising and a series of mergers with other communal health and social care organisations, The Fed has managed to create a one-stop shop where all elements of care, including mental health services, are made available in tune with cultural and religious sensitivities.  Heathlands Village has welcomed a number of senior politicians who have without exception been full of praise for the outstanding facilities and unrivalled care offered to residents.

Heathlands Village has undergone an impressive redevelopment, including the recently opened ground-breaking dementia care facility at Willow Tree House.  However, the drive to rationalise resources to cut expenditure has led to services being underfunded.  The community itself continues to fundraise, but resources are stretched due to ever increasing costs and dwindling state support.

This has been exacerbated by the Coronavirus pandemic, during which demand for services vastly increased whilst charitable income reduced.  All social care providers benefitted by VAT being temporarily removed on the purchasing of essential PPE equipment.  Given the large scale savings, it would be hugely beneficial for this change to be made permanent.  Whilst the country is continuing to grapple with Coronavirus, it would be advantageous for care home staff to be prioritised for regular and rapid testing.

The Jewish Strategic Group has regularly been informed about the far-reaching, innovative work of members like the Hershel Weiss Centre.  The community also relies upon numerous organisations who provide vital support to people who may be suffering with their physical and mental health.  Close working relationships have been developed internally between members of the Strategic Group in the health and social care sector.  This has culminated in outstanding initiatives like the ‘Lunch is Not a Luxury’ campaign that reached its target of £23,000 in 24 hours to assist families struggling to feed their children during school holidays.  Externally, the discussions facilitated between the community and local authorities have been invaluable.  They have focussed on cross-boundary working along with ensuring community members, irrespective of their circumstances, are fully protected.

At present, Jewish care homes are only located in Salford, Bury and Manchester.  It is sometimes the case that other local authorities are reluctant to contribute to the care of a resident when he or she chooses to leave local authority social care in search of a culturally sensitive provider.

The themes stated above are cross communal.  It is hoped that government and the community can work in concert to develop schemes, including public-private partnerships, to address the ever-growing lack of resources in social care, as well as challenges relating to mental health.  We would welcome a discussion on “fair fees” with all other care homes as to how the estimated £6billion funding gap between social care funding and demand can be reduced.  The price paid in Greater Manchester for CHC funded care is in some cases half that being paid by people living in other major cities.  Communal care providers are committed to building constructive relationships with statutory partners regarding future initiatives.

The funding gap could be further increased by the Combined Authority supporting a Living Wage.  Whilst communal partners are in favour of boosting salaries for some of the lowest paid members of society who undertake such invaluable work, there is a recognition that this will have an effect on social care providers.  As a result, any commitment to raising wages must be matched by an increase in funding in recognition of the increasing cost of this provision.  The benefits are obvious, in that there would be improved staff recruitment and retention, which in turn would lead to enhanced quality owing to the workforce being stable, valued and better trained.  It is also essential to recognise the contribution made to social care providers by the voluntary sector.  They deliver huge value to the health and social care economy and their work should be engaged more successfully.

 

PLEDGE 14 To ensure the increased costs associated with specialist Jewish social care provision are recognised in relation to funding whilst also reviewing the support given by local authorities to all care providers.

PLEDGE 15 To monitor and ensure that all councils who accepted a 2% social care precept on council tax ring fence this money to be used solely for social care.

PLEDGE 16 To lobby government to explain the benefit of VAT being removed on essential PPE equipment.

 

 CULTURE, HERITAGE AND SOCIAL ACTION

Jewish culture has historically formed an integral part of the rich and diverse history of Greater Manchester.  The community continues to thrive and makes a significant contribution to the lives of those both inside and outside the community.

The community is excited to participate in the first ever culture strategy, known as Grown in Greater Manchester – Known Around The World.  The city has been a happy home for the community for generations and there are architectural gems that require preservation.  The Jewish Museum has long stood at the old Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue located in the historic Jewish neighbourhood of Cheetham Hill.  It is the only Jewish Museum outside of London in the UK and is housed in the oldest surviving synagogue building in Greater Manchester, completed in 1874.  At present, the museum is undergoing a multimillion-pound extension and facelift from award-winning architects.  When completed, this serves as an interactive space where individuals from all walks of life can visit and learn about the historic and contemporary Jewish community.  Whilst the museum is in the process of redevelopment, a pop-up exhibition has been housed at Central Library.

The community supports the desire for public events and festivals to deliver engagement between people of different faiths.  One of the most iconic annual images of Manchester is the public Menorah lighting at Albert Square surrounded by the Christmas markets.  In addition, Manchester City Council has supported Sukkah in the Square, where people of all faiths can come and learn about the festival of Sukkot.  There are also several longstanding interfaith networks that work to bring together members from different communities.

Jews have a long history of playing an integral part in supporting both religious and cultural aspects of the Jewish faith through volunteering.  This is harnessed by the work of the Jewish Volunteering Network.  One highlight of the Jewish calendar is Mitzvah Day, where members of the community are encouraged to give their time and not their money to make a fundamental difference to the community around them.  The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the heroic efforts of our communal volunteers.  An army of dedicated individuals have been on hand to perform any number of tasks to ensure the needy and vulnerable are cared for.  The Jewish Strategic Group has regularly heard testimony from volunteer organisations like Shomrim, Hatzola, Misaskim and the L’Chaim Foodbank who voluntarily give their time and resources to support the Jewish and wider community.  This buys into the Jewish concept of Tikun Olam, which is literally translated to mean repair of the world.  Any additional logistical or financial support offered to organisations who utilise volunteers for the good of our communities would be welcomed.

PLEDGE 17 To ensure faith-based bodies and events that celebrate Jewish culture and history in Greater Manchester, such as public Menorah lightings and Sukkah in the Square, are fully supported.

PLEDGE 18 To endorse, encourage and support Jewish charities engaged in promoting inter-community, interfaith relationships and social action within the city, and where appropriate their funding and other support by local government and other agencies within the city.

PLEDGE 19 To ensure the Jewish community and its history has a place within the Grown in Greater Manchester – Known Around The World culture strategy.

PLEDGE 20 To support charities to improve their volunteering, enabling them to assist the maximum number of Greater Manchester residents.