Leaders' fresh pledge on harmony

By Simon Rocker, February 19, 2009

Leaders of the United Synagogue, Reform, Liberal and Masorti movements have made a fresh pledge of commitment to the Stanmore Accords, the 1998 agreement to avoid infighting and promote co-operation.

The Stanmore Accords recognised that British Jewry was “damaged by infighting and mutual recrimination”.

Yet the future of the agreement had been in doubt amid growing dissatisfaction among the non-Orthodox bodies with the progress achieved.

Last autumn, the Progressives and Masorti issued a joint declaration without the US, promising to work more closely together. But now the lay leaders of the four synagogue bodies have agreed “to work together for the sake of the Jewish community and the future of Judaism in Britain”.

Their statement follows a meeting two months ago of the community consultative committee, the forum set up under the accords.

It was signed by US president Simon Hochhauser, Reform chairman Stephen Moss, Liberal chairman Nigel Cole and Masorti chairmen Bill Benjamin and Jeremy Kelly.

Dr Hochhauser said: “There are so many areas on which we can co-operate whilst respecting our religious differences.

“It is extremely positive that the different religious movements are so enthusiastic to work closely together to ensure communal harmony.”

Jonathan Wittenberg, Masorti’s senior rabbi, said that “if the Jewish community is to be renewed, it is manifestly obvious that we have to plan and work together”.

Last updated: 10:03am, February 19 2009