Forty Under 40: The Countdown Continues!

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Forty Under 40: The Countdown Continues!

30u3Welcome to week two of the Jewish News and Jewish Leadership Council’s fascinating countdown of the 40 inspirational individuals poised to define Anglo-Jewry in the years to come – as voted for by our panel of community experts.

This week’s outstanding individuals include the director of Office of the Chief Rabbi, a mobile technology entrepreneur and an award-winning storyteller.

Profiles written by Gabriel Pogrund

Join the discussion! TWEET the Jewish News using the hashtag #40Under40


Libby Burkeman
Libby Burkeman

Libby is informal education director at the Movement for Reform Judaism.

Her remit includes the two most strategically important and arguably challenging groups for any Jewish organisation: youth and young adults.

Libby has developed a wealth of cutting-edge educational resources for Reform synagogues and madrichim in Zionist youth movement RSY-Netzer, which now caters to 1,000 children every summer as well as the student body, Jeneration.

Last year she spearheaded the appointment of a Reform young adults rabbi, Benji Stanley.

The archaeology and geography graduate was herself movement worker in RSY-Netzer  and spent the first part of her career at the London Jewish Community Centre before moving to the Science Museum as an outreach officer.

She has held practically every major role at Limmud and, having co-chaired in 2008, now sits on its executive.

Before returning to the Movement for Reform Judaism, Libby was director of education at Tzedek, the Jewish charity fighting extreme poverty, where she led a programme that twinned Ghanian schools with Jewish schools in the UK. Colleagues at Reform Judaism laud Libby for the intellectual rigour and integrity she brings to the informal education post.


Susie Gordon
Susie Gordon

Susie is community development executive of the Leeds Jewish Representative Council.

She is responsible for the stellar success of Leodensian Jews in resisting the pull of  London and revamping the infrastructure in a once dwindling community which has opened a high-school, a state-of-the-art youth campus, a kosher bakery and an educational centre since 2013.

Most of these inspirational developments took place through the Leeds Jewish Future Programme, which she established with 18 to 35-year-olds in mind and subsequently expanded to include all Jews in the city. From the Leeds Jewish Housing Association (which helps young Jews get onto the property ladder) all the way to the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board, which looks after the elderly and disabled, the LJRC has lived up to its billing and ensured, as it motto states, that “Leeds is a Great Place to be Jewish”.

Susie, who studied at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, has helped Jews from across the world – including Israel, Spain, Argentina and the United States – to relocate to the city and become involved in Jewish life in the region.


Charlotte Fischer
Charlotte Fischer

Charlotte is a leading member of Citizens UK, the grassroots activist group composed of schools, churches, mosques and synagogues.

She is the inaugural ‘Jewish community organiser’ for London Citizens, which has a stellar track record in linking faith groups to achieve change on a local level, and borough organiser for Barnet Citizens, who achieved national recognition for supporting the local Somali Bravanese community last year.

When their community centre was firebombed in a suspected racist arson attack, Barnet Citizens helped relocate after-school activities to nearby Jewish schools and arranged for Finchley Reform Synagogue and Kinloss United to host Eid and Ramadan. Barnet Citizens subsequently won £1.1million of funding to rebuild the community centre.

For her efforts, Charlotte won the Annemarie Schimmel Award for Championing a Muslim Cause at the 2014 Muslim News Awards for Excellence.

Charlotte, the daughter of former Wimbledon Reform shul’s Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild, spearheads the Living Wage Campaign within the Jewish community and has persuaded shuls to pay employees enough to cover living costs. In summary, Charlotte is a communal warrior in the classical prophetic tradition.


Rachel Rose Reid
Rachel Rose Reid

Rachel has professionalised the most definitively Jewish of skills: storytelling.

Her work draws on a mishmash of media including English folk music and spoken-word poetry. Dubbed the ‘Queen of the New Wave of storytellers’ by BBC Radio 3,  Rachel performs at a similarly eclectic range of venues including rock festivals, theatres and concert halls.

She has collaborated with London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the British Council and won plaudits from national publications. In 2012, The Times gushingly reported “there’s no faulting Reid’s command of her craft”. That year she became the first storyteller to receive the Creative Residency of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, and later served as a writer in residence for Charles Dickens’ bicentenary celebrations.

Rachel, who has travelled across the UK, US and Australia on solo tours, was also a writer in residence at the Saison Poetry Library. The London-born star founded Willesden Green Wassail, an annual festival that brings urban and folk tradition together in west London.

She has also wowed kvelling crowds at Jewish Book Week and Limmud Conference. As a founding member of Moishe House, she has sought to develop events to welcome those fearing marginalisation from the community and has worked to bring together Israelis and Palestinians

26Daniel is former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks’ “right-hand man”.

Daniel Sacker
Daniel Sacker

The history and politics graduate worked in communications at the Office of the Chief Rabbi between 2011 and 2013, and left with Rabbi Sacks to run his private office when Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis took over the coveted role.

Since stepping down Sacks’ public engagement has barely abated: he has waded in on national debates about Israel and anti-Semitism at choice moments, written several books, and taken up lecturing posts at New York University and Yeshiva University.

Sacks’ enduring influence and industry is in a large part thanks to Daniel, who is seen as having personally managed his dignified transition away from United Synagogue HQ.

Daniel, a Manchester University alumnus, served as national chairperson of the Union of Jewish Students (2005-2006) before taking a four-year break from the community working for a leading international PR firm Weber Shandwick.

He later returned to head up communications at the Jewish Nation Fund’s UK branch and has only seen his import grow since partnering up with Lord Sacks.


Ari Jesner
Ari Jesner

Ari is director of the Office of the Chief Rabbi. He worked at the Silver Circle law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner for 10 years before becoming Ephraim Mirvis’ first “chief of staff” in 2013.

The Finchley United Synagogue member has worked for his former rabbi ever since, helping develop strategy and oversee programmes such as Shabbat UK, which took place last October and saw some 100,000 people take part in special events to mark the day of rest.

Ari grew up in Glasgow and sat on the executive of the religious Zionist youth movement B’nei Akiva before studying law at the University of Westminster and qualifying as a solicitor.

While plying his trade in the City, Ari helped develop the curriculum for the London School of Jewish Studies and co-founded the Yoni Jesner Foundation in memory of his youngest brother who was murdered in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem 13 years ago.  Ari, who holds a masters in theology from the University of Cambridge, is the current chairman of the charity.


Richard Verber
Richard Verber

Richard is communications and campaigns manager at World Jewish Relief, the UK-based international NGO that provides humanitarian assistance to Jewish and non-Jewish causes.

There, he has developed a reputation as a respected public representative and spoken alongside figures including the Archbishop of Canterbury. After graduating in French and Russian at the University of Oxford in 2007, Richard served as education director at UJS and was later appointed its head of professional development and leadership training.

While overseeing a budget of £135,000 and working with Jewish students on matters such as religious diversity and Israel engagement, he picked up an MA in social policy and education from Birkbeck University. Richard has worked for WJR since 2012, although it is in voluntary leadership roles that he has arguably impressed most.

He chaired Limmud Conference 2013, which saw 2,500 attendees and a maiden visit from Ephraim Mirvis, the first by a Chief Rabbi, and represents the conference at the Board of Deputies.

In 2012 Richard set up ‘Changing The Board’, a pressure group that seeks to reform the organisation’s perceived gerontocratic leadership. As an extension of those aspirations, he is bidding to become the Board’s vice president.


Adam Pike
Adam Pike

Adam co-founded BeyondMe, which connects professionals, businesses and charities in order to make a positive change in the world, in 2011.

The tagline of the social enterprise is ‘promoting generosity in leadership’. Adam served as CEO until February this year and certainly put meat on that bone: BeyondMe linked up 50 teams of City businesspeople and raised £250,000 for charitable causes during his tenure.

Adam, who studied history at the University of Manchester, served as president of the Union of Jewish Students for two years (2008-2010) before beginning his professional career.

He first worked at the Cabinet Office as a policy adviser and then headed to Deloitte as a management consultant.

The company offered steadfast support for BeyondMe and Adam’s other ventures, and granted him three years of sabbatical work. He finally left the company this year for Imagine Media, an ‘augmented reality’ company that enables users to view 3D images on mobile phones, and recently co-founded SuperCarer, a tech-start up that matches families with safe and reliable care givers.

Adam is a trustee of World Jewish Relief and a member of Global Shapers, a network of influential young adults established by the World Economic Forum.


Jonni Berger
Jonni Berger

Jonni achieved arguably the greatest cross-communal penetration of any Jewish campaign with #Spit4Mum, which he co-founded with sister Caroline in 2013 after discovering his mother needed an urgent bone barrow transplant.

The exclusively online effort used Facebook and Twitter to encourage Jews, especially young Ashkenazim, to register with the Anthony Nolan Trust and was wildly successful. just 10 weeks, more than a 1,000 Jews had signed up and a donor had been matched with Jonni’s mother, who survived after suffering myelodysplastic syndrome.

By last summer, Jewish areas had the highest concentration of stem cell donors in London. Considering the impact the campaign has had, it’s little wonder Jonni’s self-identifies on Twitter as disliking even “mentions” of bone marrow in a culinary context!

He is a graduate of LEAD’s Adam Science Foundation leadership programme and is involved in Mitzvah Day, the London Jewish Forum and a twinning project between a progressive Jewish community in Belarus and Finchley Reform Synagogue, where his wife, Miriam, is principal rabbi. He chairs the RSY-Netzer advisory group and is a member of the Reform Movement board.


Claudia Mendoza
Claudia Mendoza

Claudia is head of policy and research at the Jewish Leadership Council. She has worked for the representative body since 2011 and maintained its political and religious inclusivity, while adopting a firm line on matters including Israel and women in leadership.

In the aftermath of last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, for example, Claudia launched a major rebuttal to the Amensty International report, “Families under the Rubble: Israeli attacks on inhabited homes”, which accused Israel of war crimes. Prior to joining the JLC, Claudia was a research analyst at the Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank specialising in the role of capitalism and democracy in promoting prosperity.

There, she focused on Iran and emerging democratic Arab states. Claudia has an MA in Israeli and Jewish Diaspora Studies from SOAS and is a former member of the Legacy Heritage Fellowship, which supports outstanding post-graduates in Israel, the US and the UK  committed to peace in the Middle East.

She is also a graduate of the Adam Science Leadership Programme, which is aimed at young professionals who want to become lay leaders in the Jewish community. Claudia is married to Alan Mendoza, founder and chair of the Henry Jackson Society, a neo-liberal foreign policy think-tank.


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