Standing up to save Highams Park

By Simon Rocker, May 3, 2012

One of the United Synagogue's smallest communities, Highams Park and Chingford, will live to pray another day after staving off closure.

A motion to shut the doors of the 200-member east London synagogue had been tabled at an emergency meeting called last month by the previous board.

"Everyone was against it," said new chairman Stan Cordell.

"They asked whether anyone was prepared to be on the board and a number of us stood up." The new leaders say they will work to put the synagogue's ailing finances on a sounder footing and improve attendance at services.

"It will be hard work," Mr Cordell said. "But we have got a good team and the US are being as co-operative as they can."

Highams Park's minister for the past seven-and-a-half years, Rabbi Avromi Kahan, was delighted by the rescue plan. "We have got an enthusiastic new board and a great opportunity to move forward."

The US had partly relaxed a by-law preventing affiliate synagogues accepting as members people living more than a-mile-and-a-quarter away, he said. "If they are not members of any other shul, they'll be able to join."

A US spokesman was "extremely pleased that a new board of management has come forward, giving Highams Park and Chingford Synagogue a new lease of life.

"We are committed to helping mainstream Orthodox Jewish life flourish and will, of course, work with the shul to support it going forward."

Last updated: 6:40pm, May 3 2012