US cuts budget and jobs as income falls

By Simon Rocker, January 29, 2009

The United Synagogue is axing jobs and planning to cut spending by nearly £250,000 in the light of the economic downturn.

A spokesman for the Orthodox synagogue organisation said on Monday that a financial review had led “to a proposal that a small number of positions will be made redundant. However, as we are still within the consultation process, we cannot confirm the number of positions that may go.”

The new budget was due to be presented to the organisation’s lay council on Thursday evening, following a review conducted by new chief executive Jeremy Jacobs, a former US treasurer, who arrived in November.

Despite an expected surplus for last year of nearly £344,000, the organisation is proposing to cut spending from £13,045,000 to £12,797,000 in 2009.

The spokesman said the US was taking a “responsible and proactive approach” in expectation that income from membership and fees for kashrut and Beth Din was likely to fall.

Spending on the young people’s division, Tribe, is projected to drop from £756,000 to £663,000 this year. “The hope is that no programmes will be cut, but there will be an overall pruning back,” the spokesman explained. “It could be that Tribe’s Israel programme will be shorter, for example. We did look at abandoning summer schemes but we have been able to secure separate funding for that.”

One area of expenditure likely to rise, however, is for the Beth Din, up from £651,000 to £733,000, in particular to provide technical advice to a dozen new eruv projects in local communities.

The US burial society enjoyed a surplus of more than £1 million when it was originally budgeted to break even last year. This was due to an increase in funeral charges from £1,750 to £2,500 per burial (which come out of the funeral expenses scheme, the fund into which members pay their annual subscriptions).

However, the burial society surplus is projected to fall from £1,259,000 to £743,000 this year, with members expected to cut back on tombstone maintenance and plot reservations.

Last updated: 10:53am, January 29 2009