Nottingham Rabbi: Community has a future

The minister of Nottingham's Orthodox synagogue insists that the community's future is bright despite a dramatic fall in the number of young people.

Although the Nottingham Hebrew Congregation membership has held up reasonably well during Rabbi Moshe Perez's 20 years at the helm, numbers at the cheder have slumped from 65 to 18.

Rabbi Perez's wife and four children are based in Manchester and Jonathan and Lydia Engler are about to move there after 20 years in Nottingham, saying: "It's not fair to our children to stay."

Mrs Engler said they "have always liked Jewish provincial life. But the number of children in the Nottingham community has fallen dramatically. Our children try to organise Jewish social events on Sundays and only seven people show up.

"The community knows it's in decline. We would like our children to marry Jews and we recognise they need a good Jewish social life.

"They are going to have a ball in Manchester. They will have their pick of Jewish social clubs and can go to Jewish schools. It will be great fun."

The shul has a membership of 280 families, compared to 320 when Moroccan-born Rabbi Perez took spiritual charge in 1990.

"It's very sad that families have moved away but we have gained two new families from Birmingham and Brighton." Nottingham was also a popular destination for Jewish students.

Ten years ago, he opted to send his two eldest children to Manchester to attend a Jewish school and live with a Jewish family. The two youngest eventually followed with his wife.

"My family went to Manchester not because we are not happy in the community but because I wanted my children to have the opportunity of being in a Jewish environment," he explained.

"But we hope we can encourage more people to move here and we won't give up as a community."

Last updated: 3:35pm, June 17 2010