Rabbi offers help to ‘three-day Rosh Hashanah’ council

By Leon Symons, September 19, 2008

A rabbi has offered his services as a religious adviser to a council which invented a High Holy-day and scheduled a by-election on Yom Kippur.

Last week, the JC revealed how Haringey Council had chosen October 9 for the poll, believing it to be a less religious day than the previous Thursday, which it decided was the "third day of Rosh Hashanah".
Rabbi David Mason has now contacted the North London authority in an attempt to avoid further inconvenience for Jewish residents.

He said the council had become confused about the Fast of Gedalia (which begins at sunset as the second day of Rosh Hashanah ends) after using the BBC website's multi-faith calendar.

But the website carried no mention of the fast day when the JC checked this week. It is not known what other forms of advice the council had taken before making its decision.

Many members of Rabbi Mason's congregation at Muswell Hill United Synagogue live in the Alexandra ward and are eligible to vote in the poll.

He used part of his sermon during last week's Shabbat service to encourage them to apply for postal and proxy votes.

"There are a lot of angry shul members. I have been in touch with the council and I have also written to the mayor's office," he said.

"The council thought the fast was an extension of Rosh Hashanah, as in, ‘the third day'. Obviously they do not have a suitable adviser.

"My predecessor, Rabbi David Lister, had good contacts with other religious groups and generally within the borough and I want to continue a civic relationship. Then hopefully this sort of thing will not happen."
The council has said it will work to prevent future clashes with religious holidays, but this week declined to comment on the possibility of working with Rabbi Mason, who took charge at Muswell Hill last month.

Last updated: 10:41am, September 22 2008



Thu, 09/18/2008 - 21:39

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You have to use Gemorro logic to understand this 'third day' confusion. Everyone knows that outside the Land of Israel, festivals have an extra day. Everyone probably also knows that in the Land of Israel Rosh Hashana is two days long. Therefore, Rosh hashanah has to be three days in the Diaspora.

If the council declined to comment on the possibility of working with Rabbi Mason this is no doubt because they know the United Synagogue is not an equal opportinity employer as it tends to favour Jewish males for its Rabbis.