Questions over West London Synagogue finances

By Simon Rocker, September 21, 2010

Leaders of the UK’s flagship Reform congregation, the West London Synagogue, are investigating possible financial regularities of more than £100,000.

Losses of £144,000 have already been identified for last year, according to the newly available accounts– but the final total could be higher.

The accounts describe the amount involved as “significant” but say it would not be possible to fully quantify “until the investigation work is completed”.

West London’s trustees intend to “pursue vigorously full recovery of any losses that have been incurred”, they state.


Maidenhead feels at home with tapestry

September 16, 2010

Maidenhead Reform Synagogue has solved a long-time problem - thanks to 13 kilometres of gold thread.

For many years, the synagogue has been unable to accommodate its 800 families for High Holy Day services in its own building.

To keep the community together, they are instead held in a local community centre. However, Rabbi Jonathan Romain acknowledges that the atmosphere has not been the same as in the synagogue proper.

To address the problem, he commissioned one of the community's artistic talents, Karen Broude, to produce a giant tapestry depicting a shofar.


Ultimately, converts will be the losers

By Seth Farber, July 22, 2010

Whatever happens in the end to the conversion law, the real losers are the potential converts. Neither the bill - which was proposed by Yisrael Beiteinu in an effort to ease the road for converts in Israel - or the virulent response of the North American Jewish community, which tried to kill the bill, was going to significantly improve the chaos that has characterised conversion in Israel for the past decade.


Egypt-Israel relations will outlive Mubarak

By Ben Lynfield, July 22, 2010

Rumours that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is dying have caused concern in Israel over the future of the Israeli-Egyptian relationship.

Over the past three decades, Mr Mubarak has gained admirers in Israel for sticking to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty through wars and intifadas. But the "cold peace" does not depend on him personally and is still likely to persist in a post-Mubarak era, analysts say.


First woman chief executive for Reform Jews

By Simon Rocker, March 25, 2010

The Movement for Reform Judaism will become the first British synagogue body to be professionally led by a female rabbi after Rabbi Tony Bayfield announced plans to retire as head in 15 months.

Rabbi Shoshana Boyd-Gelfand, 42, who joined as executive director in 2007, will move to the post of chief executive in June 2011, according to proposals presented to the Reform Council on Sunday.

Rabbi Bayfield, who retires a month before his 65th birthday after 37 years' service to the movement, will become Reform's honorary president.


Reform Jews grill Chris Grayling on arrest law

By Marcus Dysch, February 25, 2010

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said this week that he was unsure whether it was necessary to change the law on universal jurisdiction.

He was speaking to two dozen members of the Reform community at the Sternberg Centre in Finchley, north west London, on Monday evening.

Audience members grilled him on how a prospective Tory administration would tackle the issue of universal jurisdiction.


Harrow congregations to ponder merger proposal

By Robyn Rosen, February 25, 2010

Two Reform synagogues in the Harrow area have taken the first steps towards a potential merger.

Members of the Kol Chai community in Hatch End and the Middlesex New Synagogue have been invited to parallel open meetings on March 21 to discuss the option.

The idea is for the buildings to be sold to fund a purpose-built site for a combined adult membership of 1,300.

Kol Chai co-chair Neil Mendoza said: "Our area is an exciting and dynamic place to be Jewish. Harrow has the third largest Jewish population in London and Bushey is one of the fastest growing communities in the UK.


Reform is too frum for us, say members

By Sue Fishkoff, December 17, 2009

For the past decade, the American Reform movement has been engaged in a re-evaluation of traditional rituals, from Shabbat to kashrut. There is more Hebrew in the services, more yarmulkes, more interest in using mitzvot to bring holiness to the mundane.

But now, a small group of mainly older Reform Jews is resisting. They say this growing interest in ritual observance is a betrayal of Reform’s original rationalist approach to faith, and is putting the movement on the slippery slope towards Orthodoxy.


'Ethical' food, not kosher, is priority for US Reform

By Sue Fishkoff, November 26, 2009

For the past few years, the American Reform movement has been edging toward a re-examination of kashrut. Those tentative steps were diverted somewhat at the movement’s biennial convention in Toronto earlier this month.


Reform 'deeply worried' on funds

By Robyn Rosen, October 15, 2009

Reform leaders have warned supporters about the impact of the recession on activities.

Addressing over 200 guests at the Movement for Reform Judaism’s annual dinner in central London, movement head Rabbi Tony Bayfield said he was “deeply worried about the remainder of this year and next year. We get no government grants, no public funding. We are entirely dependent upon private individuals.

“Never more than now do we need you to commit wholeheartedly to the future that you see.”