In a surprise move, rabbi and author Yitzchok Rubin is to leave South Manchester Synagogue a year early to head a local educational venture.
Brooklyn-born Rabbi Rubin, 65, will vacate the pulpit in the affluent Bowdon community to focus on launching a specialist strictly Orthodox private high school in north Manchester. He will then become its head.
Having served the shul for 25 years, Rabbi Rubin will now depart by November, instead of in October 2011, as originally planned. He announced the move during a Rosh Hashanah sermon.
The synagogue executive recently agreed a gardening leave arrangement to allow the rabbi to maintain some small involvement in the community but will be advertising for a replacement immediately.
President John Sless paid tribute to Rabbi Rubin and his wife Chaiky for their immense impact on the congregation and the local community in general. "With his charismatic and larger than life character, Rabbi Rubin will be a very hard act to follow. We thank him for all his hard work and hope he continues his dream in Jewish education."
Before coming to the UK, Rabbi Rubin opened a New York yeshivah for boys with learning difficulties. It has been a long-held ambition to bring a new style of education to England.
The school for boys opened two weeks ago at the former Adass Yeshurun synagogue building in Broughton Park with a "small number" of pupils. Based on an American system, it is not a special needs school, says Rabbi Rubin, but will offer one-to-one tutoring for high achievers and extra assistance to less academic children.