US 'to take control' of Office of Chief Rabbi

United Synagogue president Stephen Pack revealed this week that the organisation wants a closer relationship with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis than it had with his predecessor, Lord Sacks.

Mr Pack explained that this was the reason why the US had now taken control of the Office of the Chief Rabbi, which had previously been run by the independent Chief Rabbinate Trust.

Speaking at the US council on Monday, he said: “One of the things we felt was very important with the new chief rabbi was to make sure he was very close to the United Synagogue in every respect.”

“Without wanting to criticise” his predecessor, he said that Lord Sacks had done “wonderful work outside the United Synagogue. Sometimes we felt we wanted him to do more within the United Synagogue.”

While they did not wish to curtail the chief rabbi’s work outside the US, Mr Pack said, “we also want him to focus and be much more closely involved with us within the United Synagogue”.

As a result, the US will now shoulder responsibility for the cost of supporting the chief rabbinate.
The US previously contributed around £300,000 to the £800,000 annual cost of the OCR. But its projected funding will rise by £350,000 next year.

Mr Pack added that the Chief Rabbinate Trust would remain as a fundraising vehicle “because we know some people who have been funding the CRT would like to continue”.

Finance director Richard Taylor said: “It is going to take us a while to replace the significant fundraising that Lord Sacks and his office enjoyed and we are budgeting for 2014 not to achieve that same level of fundraising… We anticipate it is going to take us one or two years to get to those sorts of levels.”

Overall, the US central spending will rise from £6 million in 2014 to £6.5 million next year, which will include a two per cent salary increase for staff.

But spending on the youth division Tribe, and on education, which had been budgeted to rise this year, will drop by 12 per cent to £1,045,000 in 2014.

Last updated: 3:45pm, December 16 2013