Shul planning alternative New Year

By Jessica Elgot, August 5, 2010

A major Leeds Orthodox synagogue will be breaking with tradition on Rosh Hashanah by holding an informal explanatory service, including discussion in English, as its main celebration.

Beth Hamidrash Hagadol Synagogue, Street Lane, will offer congregants Hebrew prayers in phonetic English and Rabbi Jason Kleiman will give explanatory talks.

A more traditional service will be held in the shul hall.

"We understand that on Rosh Hashanah most people are not regular shul-goers," Rabbi Kleiman said.

"We can fill the synagogue with 1,200 people and most are totally disengaged. We need better decorum - there are sometimes 1,000 people whispering while the chazan is singing.

"Obviously it's a major culture shift so we will be sending out letters to all our members. We hope it won't be a shock to them on the day.

"There will always be people who aren't keen on change but discussions so far have been very positive."

He added that "people think the provinces are old-fashioned. We want to show that is not true."

Raymond Myers, 86, a BHHS member for 20 years, is among supporters of the change.

"There will be the traditionalists who want us to keep everything the same but we have to be progressive," he said. "We need to attract young people. I think it's a really good idea, it moves us forward."

Last updated: 11:04am, August 5 2010