Croydon ousts 'detrimental' minister

Croydon Federation Synagogue has ousted its minister just a year after he was appointed, claiming his presence is "detrimental" to the congregation and that his wife's behaviour has been "disruptive".

Synagogue president Anthony Bond took minister Rev David Gilinsky to the Federation Beth Din earlier this month, backed by a petition signed by 28 members.

The Beth Din found on February 7 that "Reverend Gilinsky's presence in the synagogue is detrimental to the ongoing existence of the synagogue".

It further said that "the frequent lack of a minyan is due to the presence of Reverend Gilinsky and the synagogue will be forced to close if Reverend Gilinsky remains".

It ruled that Mr Gilinsky should not attend any services in the synagogue with immediate effect.

Following the ruling, Mr Bond informed members that the next Shabbat service would take place in a private home "in order to prevent any unnecessary tension that may be caused by holding this Shabbat service in the synagogue".

He also contacted Mr Gilinsky's wife, Ofra, informing her that the board of management had declined her application for membership of the shul.

He wrote: "This decision has been made on the grounds that your behaviour has been disruptive, and has caused distress to fellow congregants.

"Furthermore, you are not welcome at services/events held under the auspices of Croydon Synagogue. Having regard to your history of disruptive behaviour, and under the current circumstances, the board of management ask that you refrain from attending."

In a letter to the Beth Din, Rev Gilinsky asked if the ruling extended to his presence in the shul for other purposes.

"The ruling refers only to me absenting myself from 'services' in Croydon Federation Synagogue," he wrote. "The ruling does not seek to restrict any other access to the synagogue to which I am entitled under my employment contract, or otherwise, as a Jewish resident in the London Borough of Croydon."

In 2008, Mr Gilinsky, a trustee of the Cambridge Community Mikveh Charity (CCMC), took his fellow trustees to the London Beth Din, complaining of "procrastination" over a project to build a mikveh in Cambridge.

Mr Bond and the Gilinskys declined to comment.

Last updated: 3:07pm, February 24 2011