Reform forced to shut Northern office

By Simon Rocker, October 30, 2008

The Reform Movement is to close its Northern office in Manchester as part of a package of cuts caused by the general financial crisis.

Three staff are to be laid off in the synagogue services department, admin and IT, members of the movement's council were told at a quarterly meeting in London on Sunday.

Despite an increased yield from its annual dinner earlier this month, the Reform's fundraising target of £980,000 is likely to fall short by £21,000 this year: and it is planning to cut is spending by around £270,000 to just over £3 million next year.

Stephen Moss, the movement's chairman, said: "It is a difficult time. The word we are focusing on is prudence." But he added that the situation was "not as bad as it might have been if we weren't running already a very efficient organisation".

One or two synagogues are already known to be unlikely to meet their projected contributions to the movement this year, while Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield, the movement's head, reported that several significant donors "have been badly affected by the banking crisis".

The movement has also had to contend with higher than expected costs for repairing an 18th-century wall around the Sternberg Centre in Finchley: and for youth tours to Israel, because of the shekel's strength against the dollar.

Its operating plan presented to the meeting states: "The cost benefit of closing the Northern office and subsequently making one of our Northern staff redundant is substantial and necessary in order to balance the budget."

It says that the Reform's executive board believes that "other members of the synagogue services team could be deployed differently in order to ensure that the Northern communities continue to be served effectively".

Belinda Copitch, director of Northern development, said: "Nothing has been decided as yet. I am continuing to support constituent communities."

Jonathan Lewis, chairman of the Northern synagogues' network, said that the closure of the office was "a sad thing...but I understand it".

But the movement is planning to increase spending on its Jeneration project for young adults from around £125,000 to £175,000 next year.


Last updated: 10:29am, November 4 2008