US looking to the regions
The United Synagogue has revealed that it is looking to recruit communities from outside London.
Its 62 congregations have until now been based in the capital and the Home Counties.
But in a statement this week, its president Simon Hochhauser said the US would extend a “warm invitation to other Orthodox communities in London and beyond”.
The organisation’s ranks have already been swelled with the addition of Alei Tzion, the young 100-strong modern Orthodox community which has met for the past three years at the London School of Jewish Studies in Hendon.
Members of the US council on Monday night formally approved the membership of the new congregation, further backing Barnet Synagogue’s upgrade from affiliate to full constituent status.
But on the downside, it was announced that Hounslow, Heathrow and District Synagogue is to close.
Monday’s meeting was due to have seen the triennial election for the organisation’s new lay leaders. However, since there was no contest for any of the seven posts, Dr Hochhauser, returning for a second term as president, and his team of officers instead fielded questions on their new manifesto.
Restating his commitment to equality at lay leadership level for women — who currently cannot serve as chair of local congregations or as officers of the United Synagogue — he observed: “The quicker we get there, the better.”
It was “quite possible” that they would be able to move forward within certain constraints set by the organisation’s religious authorities.
In the meantime, Dr Hochhauser would consider the idea of electing women as observers to trustee meetings.
Joint treasurer Geoffrey Hartnell also revealed that the US is considering buying a section of around 50 plots in the Eretz Hachayim cemetery outside Bet Shemesh to enable members to be buried in Israel.
A short video was presented of a recent visit to the resting place by US head of burial Melvyn Hartog — to the accompanying soundtrack of the Song for Peace.