Cardiff members veto help for buying minister’s house

September 4, 2008

Cardiff United Synagogue members have rejected their rabbi's request for assistance to buy a house.
Thirty-six of the 64 congregants at an extraordinary general meeting on Sunday opposed the shul council's recommendation that Rabbi Mordechai Wollenberg jointly purchase a property with the synagogue. Under the proposal, the synagogue's share would have been up to one-third of the house value. The shul has a membership of 252.

In a statement following the EGM, executive members Martin Joseph, Lisa Gerson and David Woolf voiced dismay that the majority of those at the meeting "felt it was the wrong time economically to be buying property. The executive and council will continue to explore ways of enabling the rabbi to find larger accommodation for his growing family."

Expressing his disappointment, Rabbi Wollenberg said: "We have been in Cardiff for nearly five years, longer than most previous rabbis, and we have formed close relationships with many. We feel our work here has just begun and hope that the community shares our feelings and manages to resolve the housing and other issues favourably so we can continue to serve them well."

The rabbi currently lives in a shul-owned three-bedroomed house adjacent to its Cyncoed Gardens building. His wife Blima, who heads the cheder, is due to give birth to their fourth child next month.
Rabbi Wollenberg has introduced activities including a daily minyan and a summer day camp, maintained contact with members who are not regular shul-goers and set up a communal magazine.
Among those who supported the proposal was Mitzi Goldberg, who said the Wollenbergs had improved communal life and enhanced Cardiff's reputation for friendliness and hospitality.

Opponent Mervyn Joseph stressed: "I and the majority did not vote against the rabbi but against the proposal. Past and existing executives have worked conscientiously to rehouse the rabbi and his family in a property commensurate to his status and position."

Accountant and former shul president Stephen Hamilton argued that "in today's economic climate, buying property isn't a viable proposition".

Last updated: 12:21pm, September 5 2008