‘Anti-Lubavitch’ row in Brighton

By Cecily Woolf, September 11, 2008
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Over 50 Brighton and Hove Hebrew Congregation members are demanding an EGM to protest against what they see as anti-Lubavitch sentiments by the shul's management.

They want Lubavitch rabbi Herschel Rader to be given a permanent contract when his temporary deal expires on November 1.

The synagogue board has refused to commit itself on a rabbinical appointment.

Brighton and Hove's last incumbent, Rabbi Pesach Efune, is also a Lubavitch minister. He resigned in May 2007 for personal reasons.

Speaking for the dissenting members, former congregation chairman Keith Davis complained that the board had ignored several requests for information and a meeting. "We took exception to some policy decisions," he said.

Another concern of the group had been a proposal by the synagogue to move the nursery, run by Rabbi Efune and his wife Penina, to premises they claimed were unsuitable. The plan has since been dropped.

They also point out that a picture of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Schneerson had disappeared from its position of honour in the synagogue's Mark Luck Hall.

Board chairman Russell Gross was saddened by the group's demand. "I've already held three surgeries at the shul and nobody has raised these issues there," he maintained.

"In addition, we have now formally invited Mr Davis to a meeting to discuss these matters.

"I do not know the circumstances of the picture's disappearance from the Mark Luck Hall and we totally deny any form of prejudice."

    Last updated: 4:17pm, July 16 2009

    COMMENTS

    finbar

    Fri, 09/12/2008 - 20:34

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    "A picture of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Schneerson had disappeared from its position of honour in the synagogue's Mark Luck Hall." 

    Quite unbelievable. How dare the Lubavitch have hung an image of their cult leader in this 'United' synagogue hall. It's pretty close to idolatory. Generations of old Brighton Jews must be turning in their graves.


    Adam Ramet

    Tue, 09/16/2008 - 16:04

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    Of course the reality here is rather less interesting. A piece of old string seems to be the cause. Read on.

    After dropping our youngest daughter off to the Torah Academy Nursery this morning I had a chat with the shul site caretaker. In passing I commented and pointed to the empty space of the wall where the missing Lubavitcher Rebbe picture had been. Fortunately I have family in Rio, Brazil and so understand him in his native language probably better than most others. Anyway, the upshot of all this small chitchat was that the aforesaid picture was sat carefully in the boiler room out of harms way. We went down the corridor and I found it safely laid flat on top of the cabinet right infront of you as you opened the door. Upon examination it would appear that the cord on the reverse of the frame was somewhat loose and, in order that the picture didn’t fall on anyone (children of the nursery included who use the hall every day!) the picture was, I conclude, innocently put to one side safely by person unknown from the congregation. Having my piano repair tools in the car boot and some copper wire therein to hand I fixed the offending item and have replaced the picture back on the wall.

    When I saw what the problem was I must tell you that I really did laugh out loud especially when I thought of all the crossed wires and misunderstandings this thoughtful single act of anonymous Health and Safety in removing the item from the wall appears to have caused in the past few weeks. I have the old tired picture cord and am happy to send it to the Jewish Chronicle to set matters straight as I am sure it will make an amusing piece.

    Hopefully communal peace will now return and people will see that no discourtesy was ever intended by moving the picture but it is in retrospect heartening to know that people still are passionate about our community and all its facets.

    It is curious to subsequently learn today that some of the people who have put pen to paper so readily in recent weeks knew of the whereabouts of the picture all along but appear to have sought to capitalize on circumstances for reasons known only to themselves. This being our traditional season to forgive and forget all grievances I am certain all well-intentioned parties can now move on. I am sure the late Menachem Schneerson would have been much amused by all this and no doubt there is some moral tale that may be illustrated.

    The pen is mightier than the sword but, by replacing the picture, I am sure you will agree with me that by my so doing (thus bringing closure to this episode) the deed is, in fact, proved mightier than the pen. 

    Paying to read last weeks story is therefore quite literally "money for old rope"

    Wishing you all a Happy New Year and well over the fast

    sincerely,

    Adam G Ramet

    PS the previous anonymous comment posted on this matter is clearly from an outsider. Brighton is not a “United” but rather a strong orthodox independent which remains in the 21st century entirely welcoming and tolerant of people of all backgrounds and has been so since the community was founded around 1780. I presume the anonymous commentator does not buy nor read the Jewish Chronicle which also features the exact same pictures to which he refers. For the record the picture was donated as a gift and the community graciously hung it on one side of the rear wall in the communal hall together with the gifts of other communal benefactors and well-wishers.


    Jonathan Hoffman

    Fri, 10/03/2008 - 00:20

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    I hope they do give Rabbi Rader a permanent contract. He is an excellent Rabbi and 525 people signed a petition for him to stay at Woodside Park. (Many more would have signed, if they had the chance)