Woodside Park split on rabbi

By Marcus Dysch, August 15, 2008

The troubled Woodside Park Synagogue will continue to operate without a full-time rabbi after failing to agree on a candidate to replace Rabbi Hershel Rader, who departed controversially at the end of last year.

Two candidates shortlisted by a selection committee took part in an assessment day, including second interviews and practical tests, at the end of July.

The JC understands that Rabbi Jeremy Bruce - assistant head at King Solomon High School in Ilford and son of synagogue administrator Deanna Bruce - was the candidate put forward by the committee for the management board's approval.

However, members this week received a letter from chairman Gary Simon explaining that the board had not appointed the "preferred" candidate.

"Although this is disappointing for everyone concerned, it should be remembered that there is no automatic ‘rite of passage' between the selection committee and the board of management," Mr Simon wrote.

"The bar is set very high and this provides an important system of checks and balances to ensure that any candidate meets the needs of the community. While this is a setback, it is clearly better that we are confident about the selection of a new rabbi rather than rushing to a conclusion that may present challenges in the future." The JC made repeated attempts to contact Mr Simon and Rabbi Bruce, who were unavailable for comment.

Rabbi Rader left after being offered an undisclosed sum, thought to be around £100,000, to resign. The move split the community with over 500 congregants signing a petition calling for his reinstatement and the then synagogue officers being voted out by members. The board will meet in September to discuss its next move.

    Last updated: 1:09pm, August 14 2008