One of the United Synagogue’s longest serving ministers, Rabbi Yisroel Fine of Cockfosters and North Southgate, is to retire at the end of December after reaching the age of 65.
In a letter to his North London community, he said that he had decided it would be “the right time to leave” after 27 years’ service.
Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks hailed Rabbi Fine as “one of our most creative rabbis, [involved in] building a new Jewish day school, a mikveh, a satellite community in Hadley Wood and many other projects that have enriched London Jewish life”.
Rabbi Fine and his wife Judy hope to spend more time with their children and grandchildren — they have three married children in north-west London and one in Israel.
He intends to maintain his local links through the Wolfson Hillel Primary School — which he helped to found and of which he is honorary principal — and as a trustee of the Cockfosters mikveh, which opened two years ago.
Originally from Swansea, Rabbi Fine entered the rabbinate in 1974 as minister of Newcastle Hebrew Congregation before moving to Wembley Synagogue and then to Cockfosters in 1987.
“Our hearts will always be in this community,” he told congregants.
Cockfosters chairman Maurice Diamond said the Fines had made a “massive impact” on the community and every event over the year would be “treated as a celebration of their service”.
United Synagogue president Stephen Pack, a former Cockfosters chairman, described Rabbi Fine as “one of our very best rabbonim. It will be extremely hard to fill his shoes”.
The cricket-loving minister — a member of the MCC — also opened an adult education programme, the Cockfosters Learning Centre, in 2004.
Rabbi Fine said that “following in the illustrious footsteps of my late father the Reverend Meyer Fine [who served Cardiff and Leicester synagogues among others], the rabbinate has been the most enriching and fulfilling of professions”.
His retirement leaves another US congregation seeking a new spiritual leader. The senior post at Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue has been vacant for more than a year, Western Marble Arch is looking for a successor to the retiring Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld, and Finchley will have to find a replacement for Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis when he becomes Chief Rabbi in September.