Capital gain is Birmingham's ministerial loss

Birmingham Central Synagogue will be without a permanent minister for the High Holy-Days following the departure in August of Rabbi Shlomo Odze.

He is joining South Hampstead Synagogue as associate rabbi after serving the Pershore Road community for six years.

"He will be greatly missed and a very hard act to follow," said Central president Geoffrey Clements.

Rabbi Odze has agreed to help Central out in the September weekends leading up to the festivals. He was leaving "a fantastic community" where he and his wife Judith had made many friends. Central is attempting to find a guest rabbi for the High Holy-Days.

The 200-member synagogue is looking to establish its own cemetery after a long-running dispute over burial fees with Birmingham Hebrew Congregation, which administers the Witton and Brandwood End cemeteries. It is also awaiting planning consent from Birmingham City Council to sell its 50-year-old synagogue building and transform its community centre into a smaller synagogue.

On Shabbat, 150 members and friends celebrated Central's 50th anniversary at the Pershore Road site.

At South Hampstead, the arrival of Rabbi Odze will mean a restructuring of the ministerial team. Rabbi Shlomo Levin and his wife Lynndy will take the titles of senior rabbi and rebbetzin. Their son, Rabbi Eli Levin, and his wife Lauren will become associate rabbi and rebbetzin, continuing to promote activities for children, youth and families. The Odzes will be responsible for young professionals and newlyweds.

South Hampstead chair Michael Hatchwell said: "Recruiting Rabbi Odze enables us to bring to fruition our plan of employing three strong rabbinical leaders at different stages of their careers to work together seamlessly to deliver what our community needs."

    Last updated: 3:01pm, June 23 2011