Rabbi criticises Scotland's first Masorti synagogue

The establishment of Scotland’s first Masorti group has not been welcomed by the minister of Glasgow’s biggest shul.

Rabbi Moshe Rubin of the 850-member Giffnock and Newlands Synagogue voiced concern at the addition of another congregation in an area of declining Jewish population. “With the size of the community, it’s just not desirable to create yet another division.”

But at Masorti Scotland, which holds its inaugural service at the weekend, Warren Bader took issue with Rabbi Rubin. “We do not see ourselves as being divisive to the community,” he said.

“If anything, we may be in a better position to get people back into shuls that are currently under-attended. Masorti Scotland offers an alternative choice of worship and synagogue experience to Glasgow Jewry, which we believe is long overdue.”

Mr Bader added that 90 people had registered interest in the group, with many ready to join once the formalities of its constitution had been finalised.

“There’s a real demand for this and people have realised that if they want it, they will have to do it for themselves.”

Minds had been focused by a talk by New London Synagogue minister Rabbi Jeremy Gordon.

“Rabbi Gordon was really good,” Mr Bader said. “Since then, in less than a week we’ve had donations totalling £1,600 and been lent a privately owned Sefer Torah.” The appeal of Masorti was being “accessible, relaxed, authentic and still traditional.”

The launch service will be conducted by Masorti’s senior rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg at the Clarkston Halls in Glasgow and followed by a kiddush lunch. Assembly of Masorti Synagogues’ executive director Michael Gluckman will then lead an interactive family workshop.

“We’re delighted to be supporting this,” Mr Gluckman said. “I’m impressed by the energy of the organisers and am looking forward to being part of the Shabbaton.”

    Last updated: 3:43pm, February 11 2010