Borehamwood extends interim rabbi's contract

By Jay Grenby, July 26, 2012

V Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue has asked interim senior rabbi Shimshon Silkin to remain in the role for a further 12 months, having failed to find a successor to Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer.

As reported last week, Rabbi Silkin had been a candidate for the permanent post, but the board had concluded that none of those considered would “command overwhelming support within the community”. On erev Shabbat, members of the 1,300 family congregation were emailed with the news that Rabbi Silkin had agreed to extend his stay.

An emergency board meeting had been convened to revisit the decision “in the light of various complaints raised by some members”. However, shul chair Mike Cohen said there were no grounds to reverse the decision.

The extension of Rabbi Silkin’s contract would give the selection group more time to find an agreed candidate and Rabbi Silkin would be considered if he reapplied.

“Rabbi Silkin is highly regarded and I would expect him to remain involved in some manner with the ongoing development of the community.”

The rabbi said he had agreed to continue as interim minister “out of respect and appreciation for the community”. He and his wife had been overwhelmed by “hundreds of messages of support. I also wanted to give everyone time to relax before we plan the next phase of our community development together.”

Congregant Andy Mellish started a Facebook campaign in support of Rabbi Silkin, attracting 250 backers. He said the latest development “is not the perfect solution to our problems, but it does give us breathing space. If Rabbi Silkin applies again and gets the job, it would satisfy many members. However, there is such diversity within the community that it is almost impossible to find someone who will please all of the people, so the best they can do is to find someone who ticks as many of the boxes as possible.

“In my view, an ideal solution would be to have a principal rabbi and a team of younger rabbis acting as ‘area managers’.”

Last updated: 4:19pm, July 26 2012