Food for thought: US makes £1.2m on kashrut

The United Synagogue’s kashrut department has helped to boost the organisation’s coffers by recording a significantly higher than expected surplus last year.

Its profit of nearly £1.2 million in 2012 was close to £400,000 more than had been budgeted for, US council members heard on Monday.

Richard Taylor, the new US operations and finance director, said the kashrut department was “signing up many more factories across the world” for supervising products.

Overall, the US managed to increase its reserves from £72 million to £75 million last year — most of which is vested in synagogue buildings and other properties.

US president Stephen Pack said the accounts were in a “sound state” and represented a “huge turnaround” from 15 years ago when banks were “itchy” about the level of borrowings.

Alan Taylor, head of the audit committee, which scrutinises spending, found “no serious problem that worries me when I go to bed”.

But he was concerned that 26 of the 43 US constituent synagogues operated at a combined deficit of £500,000 last year — with some big communities running a deficit of up to £80,000.

A “very high number” of deficit synagogues were declining communities, Mr Pack explained. “We think we have an obligation in the US for the larger and better off communities to support some of the smaller and less well off communities, some of which are coming to the end of their days.”

While the US has built up its reserves, it has some bills ahead — loans of £2.85 million on the Chief Rabbi’s current Hamilton Terrace residence are due to be repaid before the end of next year.

Mr Pack also appealed to synagogues to send the full complement of representatives to the Board of Deputies to which they were entitled. “If we want to have a say in the Board of Deputies, then we need to punch our weight,” he said.

The US is planning to hold regular meetings of deputies who represent its synagogues.
Mr Pack also reported having “a very good meeting with my colleagues in the Federation and Spanish and Portuguese -— and in due course we may well include those [deputies] as well.”

Last updated: 10:45am, July 8 2013