Reform movement chief executive gives up role

Ben Rich

Ben Rich

The Reform movement has taken the dramatic step of axing its chief executive’s role in order to slash costs and strengthen education.

Ben Rich, who is leaving the movement this week after two years in charge, instigated the strategic review which has led to his departure. He explained: “The strategic review is very clear: our communities come first.”

When the movement started preparing plans to implement its strategic plans, he said, it was left with a choice: either cut costs or abandon some of its community initiatives.

“Quite often organisations do this sort of strategic work and when it comes to putting money behind it, the work goes out the window,” Mr Rich said.

“We said we cannot let the work go. If that means some uncomfortable and difficult decisions — and difficult for me particularly — then we follow through.”

Reform movement chairman Jenny Pizer praised Mr Rich’s contribution to “promoting Reform Jewish values and raising the profile of the movement in the wider community and beyond”.

The movement has just recruited Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers from West London as its new educator to serve congregations across the country.

Mr Rich said : “When we looked at how we could continue to take out back room costs, frankly the CEO’s role is a pretty expensive overhead”.

The movement’s last published accounts, in 2011, do not give a figure for the post but state that its highest-earning employee was in the £90,000-£100,000 salary bracket.

Ms Pizer said: “We have to look very carefully at how we spend our money. To focus on the back offices is not what our communities want.”

Last updated: 6:45pm, February 7 2013