Marble Arch fails in rabbi search

By Simon Rocker, June 24, 2013

Western Marble Arch Synagogue is to ask its minister Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld to delay his retirement after being unable to find a successor.

Rabbi Rosenfeld had been due to leave in January to spend more time with his children and grandchildren in Israel.

But Stanley Simmonds, president of the congregation, which is an affiliate of the United Synagogue, said it would seek an “ongoing arrangement” with Rabbi Rosenfeld, which might allow him more time with his family.
“I could see the possibility for someone to work with Lionel for a year or two and then take over when he goes to Israel,” he said.

One candidate — Rabbi Yisroel Lew, who runs the Bloomsbury Chabad Lubavitch centre — recently pulled out of the selection process.

Rabbi Lew is already a familiar face at the synagogue, running a monthly Friday night dinner and fortnightly Shabbat morning service primarily for young people.

He would not comment on his reasons for withdrawing his application. He did say that Chabad “enjoys a wonderful relationship with Western Marble Arch, which we look forward to continuing as we work together for the benefit of the entire community”.

The search for a rabbi began last year and Mr Simmonds said there had been few applications from the UK. He saw the potential to create a community centre in the West End, pointing out: “We hope to build a mikveh. If we want to encourage young people to stay in the area — many of them French — we’ve got to give them the proper facilities.”

As in previous years, Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks will be officiating at the synagogue over the High Holy-Days in what will be his first appearance in the pulpit following his retirement.

Last updated: 9:45am, June 24 2013