On the terraces of the House of Lords looking out onto the Thames, JLGB President Lord Levy hosted over 200 dignitaries and guests from the Jewish community and wider youth & charity sector to celebrate the start of the 120th Anniversary of the JLGB and to pay tribute to the adult volunteers, trustees and staff team who make it all happen.
In the presence of Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society, in a packed room crammed full of the heads of major organisations including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and National Citizen Service, Lord Levy, JLGB President said:
"One hundred and twenty years - there are very few organisations of any kind that can claim that sort of history. It is a long history, it is a proud history and it is a history that has seen so many wonderful youngsters develop through the JLGB, turning into outstanding citizens of this country and proudly representing their community. JLGB teaches skills, it teaches understanding, belief in our faith of Judaism, but understanding that we have to work together within our society and with every other faith and minority community, and frankly, with recent events, I cannot think of any better message than that and no better organisation than the JLGB that shows both our own community and wider society how you can be proud to be British and proud to be Jewish."
A special address was given by the Chief Rabbi who said:
"The number 120 is charged with great significance in our tradition, and symbolises for us, not only length of days but also completion, perfection, fulfilment - and I think that is exactly the story of JLGB over the past 120 years. The JLGB is an organisation which is the perfect thing. It is wonderful, for that which it presents to the younger members of our community, instilling within them, inspiring them to volunteer, to engage in inter-faith and intergenerational projects, to grow up to be outstanding leaders and responsible citizens and how wonderful it is that you have a wonderful team of adult volunteer leaders who are encouraging the younger element within JLGB to sparkle."
120 years ago in 1895, founded by Colonel Albert E. W. Goldsmid, the Jewish Lads' Brigade (as it was then) sought to help the many Jewish immigrant boys that were arriving into the UK at that time, by training and developing them to become worthy and useful active citizens who were a credit to their new country and the Jewish community. Whilst the world may be a very different place 120 years on, Goldsmid's main mission for the JLGB seems just as important today as it was then - to give young people the tools they need to have the best possible chance to succeed.
In her speech, Jill Attfield, head of the JLGB said:
"Today, as we celebrate the start of our anniversary year, we are here for one very special and important reason - to thank our adult volunteers, who week in - week out, work tirelessly in local communities to organise JLGB activities for children and young people. This reception is as much about applauding and honouring you all, as it is about celebrating our anniversary. Tonight, we say thank you to you, our inspirational and amazing leaders. You have cared for, developed and inspired generations of our community’s youth, just as Goldsmid intended, to have the best possible chance to succeed and be the best that they can be."
It is estimated that over 10,000 Jewish young people will take part in youth and faith friendly social action programmes in the next five years through JLGB, which is proudly leading the way as part of Prince Charles’ Step Up To Serve '#iwill' campaign.
Neil Martin, JLGB Chief Executive said:
"This is the start of a brand new chapter for the JLGB, where the future is so very bright and our job is simple and clear - to give young people the tools and skills they need to navigate a digital and global world, empowering them to become the innovative leaders of tomorrow for our community and wider society - with the support of even more volunteer leaders and more supporters."
The recent major government grant from the Cabinet Office means JLGB’s expansion is not a mere aspiration but now a reality about to happen. Over the coming year the JLGB will be launching several campaigns to encourage even more students and adults to become volunteer leaders as they expand, upgrade and create new JLGB groups to enable even more young people to take part in weekly activities across England, Scotland and Wales.