Zinkin and Pack battling for US presidency

The two United Synagogue vice-presidents will go head to head in an election for the presidency of British Jewry's biggest religious organisation.

Peter Zinkin of Golders Green Synagogue and Stephen Pack of Cockfosters and North Southgate are battling to succeed Simon Hochhauser as president in the July 11 poll.

Whoever wins will be primarily responsible for the selection of the next Chief Rabbi.

It is the first time in many years that experienced officers have stood against each other in the race for the top.

Mr Zinkin, 57, who has been a vice-president for six years, is the planning and development director of one of the UK's biggest construction companies, Balfour Beatty.

His opponent, 61, who served six years as US treasurer before becoming vice-president in 2008, is a business consultant who retired as a partner from PriceWaterhouseCoopers last year.

"The organisation is in pretty rude health and my hope is that we can make it even better," Mr Zinkin said. He highlighted the revamped US educational programme as "fundamental to what we do. The US is more than about providing religious services. It is also about enhancing the knowledge of the community."

While the US was a "backbone of Anglo-Jewry, we have to make it more comfortable with the other parts of Anglo-Jewry. That's a two-way process".

Mr Pack's priority would be "to secure the US for the next generation". He planned initiatives to attract thirtysomethings. "The organisation as a whole is getting older. We have to do something a little bit different."

He also felt his business experience in helping companies to change would prove beneficial. "We have some fantastically successful shuls that are bursting at the seams, but we also have a raft of shuls that are struggling."

For the first time, there is an election for two US women representatives on the trustee board which will be contested by five candidates.

Although US leaders have so far been unable to persuade its rabbinical authorities to allow women trustees, they can take part in trustee meetings as observers.

Competing for the posts are Doreen Fine (Pinner), Clare Lemer (Hampstead Garden Suburb), Debra Morris (Woodside Park), Naomi Landy (Hendon) and Sylvia Hartman (Edgware).

An additional observer seat is reserved for the head of United Synagogue Women, currently co-chaired by Irene Leeman and Dalia Kramer.

The vice-president and treasurer posts are uncontested. Current US joint treasurer Stephen Fenton (Bushey) will become a vice-president, joined by former JFS chairman Russell Kett (Belmont) and Jonathan Miller (Hendon).

Treasurer Russell Tenzer (Stanmore) will serve another term with new trustees Brian Markeson (Watford) and Stephen Lubinsky (Borehamwood).

    Last updated: 2:01pm, June 23 2011