Ziff sets out his stall to be next Board president

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Ziff sets out his stall to be next Board president

Leeds-raised businessman and philanthropist is keen to talk to people all over the country

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Michael Ziff
Michael Ziff

One of the candidates for president of the Board of Deputies believes the organisation has been through “a tough time” and “needs to try to improve its position in the community”.

Michael Ziff, the Board’s current treasurer, due to the loss of his mother, Marjorie Ziff MBE, has spent the last year saying kaddish in congregations all over the country, coincidentally giving him the opportunity to talk to British Jews about the Board and what they want from it.

“People are crying out for visits and to be involved,” he says, adding that a Board revamp can’t be done on its own. “We need to do it in partnership with other organisations and to work collaboratively. I’ve had the benefit of working with the community, and I’d like to give something back”.

Despite a laudable ambition of co-operation with other organisations, Ziff acknowledged a need to “re-establish trust”, particularly with the Jewish Leadership Council, which recently announced that whoever was the new Board president would not automatically receive a seat on the JLC.

He said: “If there’s a feeling that there’s been a breakdown in relationship, why else would that have happened? If everyone was best friends and getting on, that wouldn’t have happened. Clearly there’s a feeling that the Board doesn’t work collaboratively with the JLC, and we have got to work more closely with them”.

Ziff said he believed he had “the skillset to sit down and work things out” with the JLC. “If I get elected, it’s because people trust me”, he declared. He said he would apply the same “sit-down and talk” technique to organisations such as the Campaign Against Antisemitism, in the hope that they could work together in a common cause.

Ziff is a semi-retired businessman with deep roots in the Leeds Jewish community and in the sporting world. As well as being a former chair of Yorkshire County Cricket Club Members’ Committee, he is heavily involved in Maccabi, where he is international vice-president of the Maccabi World Union. He is also a previous chair of Western Marble Arch Synagogue and a former chair of both Labour Friends of Israel and former deputy pro-chancellor of Leeds University.

So far Ziff is the fourth candidate, together with Amanda Bowman, Sheila Gewolb and Phil Rosenberg, to bid for the Board’s top spot. Nominations close on March 7 and each candidate must secure 20 plus supporters in order to be able to  run in the May election.


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