LONDON COMMITTEE OF DEPUTIES OF BRITISH JEWS (more commonly London Board of Deputies):
A body formed to safeguard the interests of British Jews as a religious community. It can be traced to a committee called "The Committee of Diligence," which committee was formed to watch the progress through the Irish Parliament, in 1745, of the bill for Jewish naturalization. After the rejection of the Naturalization Bill of 1753, and on the accession of George III. in 1760, "deputados of the Portuguese nation" were appointed to attend court and express the loyalty of the British Jews, which they did on Nov. 19, 1760. The German, or "Dutch," Jews were not formally represented on the committee, but arrangements were made by which they should cooperate in important cases. The board was established to protect the interests of British Jews not only in the British Isles, but in the colonies. It was appealed to from Jamaica in 1761 and from the Balearic Isles in 1766. Meetings were held sporadically in 1778 and 1789. In the latter year Moses I. Levi was elected as president, and in 1812 the German members of the board became regularly connected with it. The deputies watched over all the legislation relating to marriages, labor laws, and other matters which might affect Jews prejudicially, and aided considerably in the struggle for Jewish emancipation. In 1835 Sir Moses Montefiore was elected president, and he remained in that office until his death, being supported by Sampson Samuel as secretary (appointed 1838), and later by Lewis Emanuel (d. 1898), who was succeeded by his son Charles, the present (1904) secretary. The committee took an active part in the Damascus Affair as well as in the early struggle for Reform; as president, Sir Moses, throughout his incumbency of the office, vetoed every attempt at opposition on the part of the representatives from the West London Synagogue.
Beginning in 1838, attempts were made to get the provincial congregations to appoint representatives on the board, with varying but on the whole increasing success, the arrangement generally being for the provincial congregation to select as its representative a London resident—if possible, one of the congregation who had settled in London. The board had much to do with the foundation of the Morocco Fund as well as of the Rumanian Committee, but since the formation of the Anglo-Jewish Association in 1871 it has worked conjointly with that body wherever any communication with the Foreign Office or with a foreign government is concerned. It helped also to found the Russo-Jewish Committee in 1882. The elections are held triennially, the latest occurring in May, 1904, when sixty-five deputies were selected, thirty-one from eighteen metropolitan synagogues, thirty-two from provincial synagogues, and two from colonial congregations. The expenses are borne pro rata by the various synagogues and congregations.
- Picciotto, Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History, ch. xiii., xiv.;
- Jewish Year Book, 5664, pp. 58-60.