Minister denounces Masorti presence

By Stephanie Brickman, April 29, 2010

Another row is flaring over the establishment of a Masorti community in Glasgow with Garnethill minister Aharon Soudry criticising his synagogue council's decision to let out a room to Masorti Scotland.

Denouncing the move, Mr Soudry has urged Garnethill members to have nothing to do with the Masorti congregation. Masorti held its first Shabbat services at Garnethill at the weekend, followed by a joint kiddush between the two congregations, another move Mr Soudry opposes.

He also voiced his disapproval of the deal with Masorti during his sermon and allegedly brandished items he claimed were not kosher that had been brought into the shul by Masorti members.

He says his opposition is mainly rooted in a concern that people will mistakenly believe that Garnethill has become a Masorti synagogue. "They've been using pictures of Garnethill to promote their position. You get the distinct impression that Garnethill Synagogue, which is an Orthodox congregation, is now Masorti.

"When I heard about it, I expressed my total opposition but the decision appeared to have already been made."

A Garnethill lay leader, Eric Jacobs, admits that the elderly congregation is in bad financial shape and could benefit from the presence of the younger Masorti group. But he accused the executive of going ahead "without consulting properly with members and, I believe, in breach of our constitution. My view as parnas is that I will back Mr Soudry to the hilt."

An emergency meeting to discuss the situation has been called for May 9.

Garnethill co-chair Gerald Levin said that Masorti was simply renting a room for Shabbat morning for the next six months and that a shared kiddush was a natural benefit of the arrangement. "We've always welcomed visitors to our shul, it's a proud tradition," he stated. "And this will always be the case. Masorti are welcome at our kiddush just like any other visitor. The congregation were consulted but then rumours started and things got out of control."

Mr Levin remains hopeful of a positive conclusion. "It was so nice to have 70 people in the building this Shabbas. Let's give it six months and see what happens."

A Masorti Scotland representative said: "You can't start a new movement without publicising it but everything we have done has made it clear that we are in the Esterson Room of Garnethill only. All our advertising is authorised by the the Garnethill council."

Last updated: 11:30am, April 29 2010