Print | Email  

Rabbis fear for future

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2004-10-31

Chief Rabbi

Chief Rabbi

Rabbis from the UK's orthodox United Synagogue could, for the first time ever, organise a series of protests against the Chief Rabbi in the coming months following a spate of job losses, pension problems and uncertainty about their futures.

Some rabbis, fear that cost cutting exercises being made to synagogues are putting their jobs on the line along with the homes that come with their rabbinical positions and need to draw attention to their plight.

Last week saw the Chief Rabbi's spokesman on medical ethics, Rabbi Chaim Rapoport from Ilford being given notice to vacate the pulpit along with Chazzan Avrom Levin.

The United Synagogue, of which, Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks is the religious leader claims that due to a falling membership, there is not enough money coming in to cover running costs.

At one point Ilford Synagogue was one of the biggest shuls in the UK with a membership of over 1600 during the late 1980s, today that figure has dropped to 855. The shul has also racked up a deficit of more than £300,000.

One rabbi, who wished to remain anonymous told SomethingJewish. "We are at the frontline of our communities, working all hours and delivering the service they need and deserve, yet we are treated badly by the US."

Another said: "I just wish Rabbi Sacks would start listening to us and understand the problems we face. How would he feel if he was given three months notice and told to leave his home as well. It's insulting and degrading."

Other rabbis are equally worried that they could be out of a job too. "We are very frightened. We have watched what has happened to Rabbi Rapoport and are worried who's next,"  said one rabbi last week in the Jewish Chronicle.

Another rabbi, Zvi Solomons, who is leaving the US Potters Bar Synagogue to join Princes Road in Liverpool has even joined the trade union Amicus and believes other Rabbis should join and get union support to help them.

President of the United Synagogue, Peter Sheldon says his organisation values their rabbis. "We are working on a daily basis with them to resolve issues that trouble some of them, many of which are legacies of the past," he said in the Jewish Chronicle.