Pack pressed on chief rabbi search

By Simon Rocker, December 17, 2012

United Synagogue president, Stephen Pack, was pressed this week over the failure to date to choose a successor to Lord Sacks as chief rabbi.

At a US council meeting on Monday, St John’s Wood Synagogue representative Ronnie Lossos said: “We are getting a lot of feedback from very upset people at the length of time it’s taken. It’s causing bad feeling.”

If a decision could not be made “very, very soon”, he felt “we should disband the selection committee and have another plan”.

Mr Pack, who chairs the Chief Rabbinate Trust search committee, responded that it had been a little more than eight months since the position of chief rabbi had been advertised. He was hopeful that the recruitment process was coming to a “very important stage.

“What is foremost in our minds is making sure that we come up with the right candidate for the US — and indeed the whole of Anglo-Jewry.”

While the age of 65 was now “very young” for a chief rabbi to step down, Lord Sacks did not want to stay on.

But the United Synagogue would benefit from his future plans, building on the platform he had created as a “truly worldwide renowned” figure.

Mr Lossos also voiced concern about a rumoured sale of the chief rabbi’s Hamilton Terrace residence in St John’s Wood.

A few years ago, Mr Lossos had been responsible for raising the funds to ensure the house remained in the hands of the US. Mr Pack said that no decision had been taken on the building. “What we will want to do is to have a conversation with the new chief rabbi and he will have a view. We shouldn’t pre-empt that view.”

Last updated: 10:45am, December 17 2012