The Brazilian-born minister chosen to be St Albans Synagogue’s first rabbi in 50 years has upset the congregation’s leadership by turning down the job, citing personal and family reasons.
In January, the shul announced that Rabbi Elimelech Vanzetta and his wife Rachel would be appointed on a part-time basis. Vice-chair Karen Appleby said then that from a substantial number of applications, “we have picked a winner” in the Chilean-based rabbi. This week, however, she expressed “extreme surprise and disappointment” at the rabbi’s decision to reamin in Chile. “We now need to move forward and continue the process of finding a rabbi who can build and inspire the St Albans community.”
In a letter to congregants, she also pointed out that Rabbi Vanzetta had also secured what would have been his primary job in the UK.
Equally aggrieved was United Synagogue community services director David Kaplan, who said: “We have invested a great deal of time and effort in seeking and securing Rabbi Vanzetta and the sense of disappointment is very strong indeed. We will work closely again to find a rabbi for St Albans.”