New law ‘won’t stop hire of foreign rabbis’

By Marcus Dysch, August 28, 2008

Legislation requiring foreign religious leaders to have a government-approved sponsor in order to work in Britain should not seriously affect the Jewish community, rabbis have said.

The new laws, expected to come into force in November, will require the sponsor to pay for a licence before a rabbi arrives to work in the country.

The Home Office said the new legislation would formalise current arrangements.

Dayan Yisroel Lichtenstein of the Federation of Synagogues said the changes should not pose problems for communities hoping to hire from abroad.

To obtain a visa, a rabbi currently needs only a letter of invitation from the organisation he will be working for, proof he has worked in a religious capacity in his home country, and to pass an English-language competency test.

Dayan Lichtenstein said: "I do not see that we would have a problem with the legislation at all, because the Federation would be able to act as a sponsor for any rabbi that we wanted to bring in. An English test would not be a problem for any of our rabbis."

Rabbi Jeremy Collick, of Edgware Masorti Synagogue, said: "The changes are fair enough and I do not have a problem with them. Perhaps it has been too easy in the past [for ministers to come to Britain]. Anglo-Jewry should have no problems fitting in with the new legislation." The United Synagogue declined to comment.

Last updated: 12:17pm, August 28 2008