The Belfast Jewish Community’s new spiritual leader brings a para medical background to the congregation and has also pledged to attract more of the Northern Ireland community who identified as being Jewish in the last census.
Birmingham-born Rabbi David Singer said from the last census taken in Northern Ireland, “over 300 people have declared themselves to be Jewish, but there are only 90 members of the shul, so if we can make it known that we’re here and people were open to being approached maybe we can enhance their identity. That does not necessarily mean, expecting them to come to shul, but at least, to be involved in Jewish things.”
At a special kiddush, attended by more than 50 members of the congregation, Dr Dennis Coppel, joint president of the Belfast Jewish Community, welcomed Rabbi Singer and his Finchley-born wife Judith who have lived in Israel, apart from a three-year term of office at Birmingham Hebrew Congregation in the early 1990s, for 40 years.
During his time in Israel, he served in the IDF and trained as a medic and ambulance driver for Magen David Adom; he is also a founder member of Hatzolah. In 1999 he enhanced his medical skills, gaining an Advanced Cardiac Life Support course at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital. He gained semichah at Yeshivat Hanegev in Israel in 1981.
“The community have warmly taken to Rabbi Singer and his wife,” said Dr Coppel. “Rabbi Singer brings a wide breadth of experience and knowledge to Belfast and it is our hope that with his para medical background he will breathe new life into our tiny community!”
The Singers have 10 children and 20 grandchildren.
Rabbi Singer replaces Rabbi Menachem Brackman who served the Belfast community for five years. He left in January and now lives in Edgware, north London.