US hopes to recruit more shuls from the regions

By Simon Rocker, March 4, 2014

United Synagogue president Stephen Pack wants more regional Orthodox congregations to follow Sheffield and join the London-based organisation.

He revealed this week that discussions had been taking place between the US and a number of congregations across the country over the past year or so. "I don't think all of them are going to come in but one or two might," he said.

After last week's announcement of Sheffield's decision, "I wasn't surprised that the phone began to ring and people suggested they might want to come and talk".

While Peterborough and Luton are US members, Sheffield is the first northern congregation to opt to come on board. Its entry to the US has to be ratified by the US council but that is likely to be a formality.

"We are not being at all acquisitive and trying to chase everybody," Mr Pack stressed.

The right way is to be gentle and responsive to approaches

"I have decided the right way is to be gentle and responsive to approaches rather than do anything that seems to be too aggressive."

Communities that had approached the US commonly needed help. "Some may have premises that are not fit for purpose and they do not have the wherewithal to manage that kind of project.

"But help is not necessarily financial. They might want advice on health and safety or other infrastructure issues.

"The quid pro quo is that if at some stage they decide they have to downsize or close, we can take the assets which are available and recycle them to places where their children or grandchildren are davening."

Last updated: 2:54pm, March 4 2014