The Hampstead Synagogue chairman has become the first recipient of a United Synagogue award to mark the contribution of honorary officers.
Michael Haringman — the senior partner in a commercial law firm who has chaired his congregation since 1997 — was presented with the President’s Award at a reception at the home of Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks on Monday.
US president Stephen Pack, who inaugurated the honour, said that when he took office, “the most amazing thing I found was the amount of work our honorary officers in each synagogue do, day in, day out, year in, year out, to help run our organisation”.
Rabbis from US shuls nominated officers from their communities they considered worthy of recognition.
Mr Pack said Mr Haringman had been “the driving force” behind the restoration of his synagogue’s listed 19th-century building.
There had once been a leaking roof, inadequate heating and poor lighting. Now it was “a jewel in the crown of the United Synagogue”.
Mr Haringman further understood that “people are important”.
Hampstead has also launched a new programme under the leadership of Josh and Yocheved Zaitschek to attract some of the large number of 20- and 30-year-olds in the area.
Lord Sacks recalled how “awestruck” he had been at the outset of his rabbinate at Golders Green by the work done by synagogue officers. “I was getting paid for it,” he said. “They weren’t.”