A letter of apology has been sent to Business Secretary Vince Cable by Richmond Synagogue over “inappropriate” comments made by a prominent guest rabbi at a synagogue gala dinner which Dr Cable addressed.
The letter — written by dinner chair Jonathan Brenner on behalf of the synagogue — noted that a number of the 100-plus guests were “disappointed” with the content of a speech made by Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld of the Western Marble Arch Synagogue.
“While we certainly support Israel as a community, we would not want you to think that we share his radical views and, therefore, would like to disassociate ourselves completely from the stance he took,” Mr Brenner wrote. He hoped Dr Cable’s enjoyment of the evening had not been diminished.
Richmond board member Robert Bieber said: “There were some among the audience who felt that the jokes Rabbi Rosenfeld made were not appropriate for a non-Jewish audience.” But it had not overshadowed an otherwise highly successful event. Rabbi Rosenfeld was unavailable for comment.
The dinner was a celebration of the synagogue’s 25 years in its Lichfield Gardens premises.
Dr Cable — who represents the neighbouring Twickenham constituency — is a longstanding supporter of the shul and regularly attends its remembrance events.
In his address, he spoke movingly about his multicultural family and highlighted the positive impact immigrants had made on British life down the years. The Jewish contribution far exceeded the community’s numbers, he observed.
The £6,000-plus raised will go towards the cost of replacing the original shul seating, which is beyond repair.
Mr Bieber said the 200-member congregation included a number of young families, as evidenced by “a vibrant cheder. It’s a nice area to live in and there is good accessibility to central London. If we had a kosher butcher, it would be even better.”
He hoped more families would be attracted by the South London Jewish Primary School opening in Wimbledon in September. “We have been supporting the SLJPS in every way.”