The Manchester Beth Din is in talks with its United Synagogue counterpart with a view to creating a “joint relationship”.
Both sides said it would be premature to comment in detail on “exploratory” discussions.
But around a dozen Manchester rabbis have signalled their concern by writing to the president of the MBD declaring opposition to their shuls coming under the umbrella of the United Synagogue and voicing support for the “total independence” of the Manchester Beth Din.
In a statement, MBD president Jeremy Nussbaum, along with his trustees and officers, said discussions had been instigated with the London Beth Din to “explore the potential benefits of the MBD and the LBD working more closely together”.
The objective was for “any joint relationship to operate for the benefit and achdus [unity] of UK Jewry in general and specifically to secure the long-term future of our 125-year-plus presence in Manchester”.
It was “of crucial importance to preserve a financially stable, autonomous beth din dedicated to the second largest and fastest-growing Jewish community in the UK”, they stated.
They stressed that “the halachic independence of the Manchester Beth Din and the autonomy of Manchester’s shuls would not be compromised by any proposed structures”. The LBD operates the KLBD kosher label; the MBD supervises the MK label. United Synagogue president Michael Goldstein anticipated “continuing discussions”.
The Manchester rabbis put their names to a letter opposing “any merger of the Manchester Beth Din and the United Synagogue or any other organisation”. Signatories included Rabbi Joel Portnoy of Hale and District Hebrew Congregation and Rabbi Yossi Chazan of Holy Law South Broughton Congregation. But one name absent from the letter was Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag of Whitefield Hebrew Congregation.
The JC understands a meeting has since taken place with the MBD at which the rabbis were put more clearly in the picture.