The United Synagogue’s youth arm, Tribe, set up to provide social and cultural activities, is to take over cheder education from the US’s Agency for Jewish Education.
Despite the growth in Jewish day schools, around 1,500 children still remain in the US part-time system. Some US members have voiced concern at giving Tribe responsibility for chedarim.
At a US council meeting last Thursday, Stanmore Synagogue’s Paul Dresner said the move seemed strange because Tribe does not have “a professional educator”, whereas the AJE was “a professional education department”.
However, US chief executive Jeremy Jacobs argued that “the best method of delivery… should come with a department focused on young people”.
An educational facility being developed with Tribe was “an area where I think you will see some very good services provided”. A new post of part-time educational co-ordinator for Tribe was advertised last week.
Meanwhile, some educational jobs have gone at the AJE as a result of reorganisation within the US, prompting questions over the agency’s future.
David Rose, a former AJE chairman, asked whether the US would have “a senior qualified educational professional on its staff in the new structure”. The question received no response. But Mr Jacobs did say the US remained committed to teacher-training and curriculum development for schools.
Co-treasurer Russell Tenzer told the meeting that local synagogues were being asked to cut their budgets by 10 per cent to cope with the impact of the economic downturn. In future, shuls would have to present a repayment plan if they wanted US loans to fund redevelopment.
With £7.5 million of outstanding loans, “we just cannot continue to loan money to local communities for nothing to be repaid”.
US president Simon Hochhauser said the organisation would not be making a grant towards shechitah defence, arguing that this should be met by the proceeds of the shechitah industry.
The council was also told that the US could no longer pass on members’ addresses to Jewish Care for the welfare charity’s Pesach appeal because of the Data Protection Act.
“We are not allowed to share data with other organisations unless members physically opt in,” Mr Jacobs explained. “That is the law.”