Tributes to Radlett rabbi

By Jay Grenby, July 29, 2010

The rift in the Radlett Synagogue leadership was put aside as members attended a farewell dinner and kiddush for Rabbi Ariel Abel, who resigned after five years as minister.

More than 120 guests heard tributes to the rabbi from United Synagogue chief executive Jeremy Jacobs and Joel Sager, warden at neighbouring Borehamwood and occasional minister at Radlett.

There was also a contribution from former warden David Glover, one of the Radlett leaders who resigned saying they could no longer work with chairman Andy Katz.

A message from the Chief Rabbi read out by inaugural Radlett chair Alex Pomerance described the congregation as "one of the great success stories in recent times in the United Synagogue".

Anglo-Jewry owed Rabbi Abel "a debt of gratitude" for his spiritual leadership and for his role in the Montefiore Endowment rabbinical training programme.

Responding, Rabbi Abel urged congregants to "take the heritage and learning we have shared and make it a reality for Radlett United".

The technophile minister was delighted to be told by Mr Pomerance that his farewell gift would be an iPad.The more traditional engraved silver kiddush cup was presented to him the following day at a kiddush after the Shabbat morning service by Mr Katz, who then left former chair Jacques Weisser to deliver a further tribute.

Rabbi Abel intends to take "a temporary sidestep from pulpit life". He will be dividing his time between the UK and Argentina, where his wife Deby is from, and where he will become involved in a family business.

In the UK, he will direct Jewish Identity Projects, a programme of the Jewish Heritage Foundation aimed at strengthening Jewish identity among secondary school students.

Meanwhile, the fall out from the resignation of the wardens and vice-chair has continued. Mr Glover said he had received an email from a board member suggesting that the departing officers should "have the decency" not to show their faces in synagogue again.

Mr Katz declined to add to his comments made to the JC last week.

Last updated: 10:04am, July 29 2010