Chief's trip cost queried

The cost of the Chief Rabbi's mission to Israel in spring was queried at a meeting of the United Synagogue council on Monday.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis plans to take around 50 rabbis with him in May for his first official visit to the country since taking office last autumn.

But US president Stephen Pack was pressed over whether the outlay was an "appropriate use" of charitable funds by one of several members who raised the issue of cost.

Mr Pack called the mission "a great initiative" by Rabbi Mirvis. "He wants to form a very close bond with the rabbonim and vice versa. I think it is an interesting way of doing it."

The trip had been "heavily subsidised," Mr Pack said. According to the Office of the Chief Rabbi, it will cost £1,200 per person - with the OCR stumping up £1,000 of that and participants asked to pay the remaining £200. "Some shuls are splitting [the £200] with the rabbi, some are covering it and some rabbis are paying it themselves," an OCR spokesman said.

Mr Pack also revealed that the US had applied for planning permission to build a "substantial residence" on the site of Hamilton Terrace, the previous home of serving chief rabbis in St John's Wood. If permission is granted, the US will decide whether to sell the premises. Rabbi Mirvis is still to move into a Hendon house bought by the US to be his official residence.

    Last updated: 11:14am, March 24 2014