Power play by rabbis

United Synagogue rabbis want a greater say in deciding its religious policy.

A draft constitution of the Rabbinical Council of the US (RCUS), which has been seen by the JC, advocates that rabbis should be “an equal partner with the Chief Rabbinate and the London Beth Din” in determining the religious direction of the US.

The document also says that the RCUS “must ratify prior to implementation all policies that affect the rabbinate as well as any policy that affects the spiritual and religious direction of the United Synagogue”.

Rabbis elected a new and more vocal leadership last summer, with Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet as chairman and rabbis Naftali Brawer and Michael Harris as his vice-chairmen.

It was the RCUS which led the way in the US’s recent change of policy to allow lay people to give eulogies at funerals.

US chief executive Jeremy Jacobs said: “The US rabbinate are a key component of the organisation and we are continually encouraging their involvement in the various aspects of central decision-making and strategic thinking.

“As part of this ongoing process, the RCUS have been reviewing their own structure and have made a number of suggestions which are currently under discussion as to how this can be developed.”

    Last updated: 11:57am, April 30 2009