The United Synagogue is looking to appoint a fundraiser to help generate £8 million for capital projects — including the extension of Bushey Cemetery.
A planning application has been submitted to Hertsmere Council for two prayer-halls, a reception area including a café, and landscaping for the site, which lies opposite the main part of the cemetery. The scheme could cost up to £7 million with an additional 8,000 graves projected in the application.
United Synagogue president Stephen Pack hoped that donors might see it as a fitting place to commemorate family members. “We’ll test the water and see,” he said.
The US is also looking to secure funds for improving synagogue buildings. “Many of our shuls would like to upgrade their facilities,” he reported.
No decision has yet been made, however, on the future of the current Chief Rabbi’s residence in Hamilton Terrace, St John’s Wood — estimated to be worth around £10 million if planning permission were obtained for its development. “It’s a very valuable asset for the community and we’ll be getting a lot of advice from various people,” Mr Pack said. “I don’t see a decision being taken very rapidly. The likelihood is we’ll rent it for a while.”
The £2.75 million cost of the new Hendon home for Chief Rabbi-elect Ephraim Mirvis is to be met from existing US cash and bank loans. Plans are also being drawn up for developing a suite of rooms at Central Synagogue to serve as Rabbi Mirvis’s West End base.
“We want to have an impressive and user-friendly place where we can invite top politicians and faith leaders,” Mr Pack said. “We’d like there to be room to have a sit-down meal for 30 people.”
The Central Synagogue project, he said, would take “months, rather than years” and cost “six figures”.