Outspoken minister ousted

By Stephanie Brickman, September 3, 2010

Glasgow's historic Garnethill Synagogue is dispensing with the services of its long-time minister because of his "unacceptable behaviour".

Aharon Soudry has worked for Garnethill on a freelance basis for 20 years and shul chairman Gerald Levin claimed there had been many instances where his behaviour had fallen short of the standards expected of a spiritual leader.

"It was a council decision to stop using his services," he explained. "It was partly for financial reasons but I would say really for behavioural reasons. He had signed a letter of intent and he broke a clause in it, which said he was not to be disruptive."

Garnethill sources say the final straw was a recent incident when Mr Soudry allegedly berated a potential new member for having attended Masorti services. The man left the building immediately, leaving the congregation one short of a minyan.

"We've got a very small and loyal congregation," Mr Levin said. "But we need as many members as we can get. If we keep losing them because Mr Soudry is at variance with them, we'll have no one left."

Mr Soudry, who declined to comment, was born in Morocco and also runs a wine business. He has not been shy to voice strong views from the pulpit. "As a person many of us like and respect him," Mr Levin added. "To give him credit, he's put in a lot of effort over the 20 years he's been here and is sincere in his opinions, but enough is enough."

It has been agreed that Mr Soudry will continue to serve Garnethill for three months, allowing the council time to make alternative arrangements. "We have enough people in the shul who know how to lead the services but we may have to bring in a chazan for future High Holy Days."

Last updated: 10:01am, September 3 2010