The right thing in Whitefield
I have been following the events in Whitefield Shul and am distraught.
I do not know all the details of what has gone on in private and therefore I make no comment on the rights and wrongs of the case itself but for such a large and prestigious community to be reduced to a public battle with its Rabbi and Chazan is not only tragic but a massive Chillul Hashem.
If, as is alleged, members are not paying their fees why was anyone with arrears on their account allowed to attend and vote? As a previous Treasurer and President of another Manchester shul, this would have been the obvious way to collect these arrears.
The danger is that Whitefield will be seen as toxic and it will be difficult for them to attract good candidates for any future posts.
There may also, sadly, be a knock-on effect on the excellent Kollel and Forum which have been a jewel in the community’s crown hitherto.
I would urge all sides to do whatever it takes to do the ‘right thing’, particularly at this time of the year, and find a way forward whereby the situation is resolved in a way that protects the good names and dignity of the Rov and the Chazan, whilst at the same time enabling the shul to find a way forward before it is too late.
Tangible charity benefit
Just as the cuckoo heralds the spring, so a letter from our synagogue is the first sign of the impending High Holydays. This particular epistle invites me to have my deceased parents inscribed in the Yizkor booklet. I have been happy to acquiesce and provide a suggested ‘discretionary donation’ — until this year. The voluntary donation has been replaced by a fixed tariff. To quote: “£25 per family name, £20 per name for 3 family names and £18 for 4 or more family names”. Apart from the fact that this is incomprehensible, at a rough guess my wife and I would now be forking out at least £50 per year to put the names of our deceased relatives on a huge list that would be distributed to all congregants, read out during the Yizkor prayer and then disposed of.
I have just learned that the recitation of these names will be abandoned from this year on, and I therefore decided that whatever the tariff, ‘print and dump’ was not the most appropriate way of commemorating my deceased relatives.
Inevitably (and perhaps sacrilegiously) my thoughts then passed to the Kol Nidre appeal. Each year, we hear an eloquent plea for the very worthy charities that our synagogue has nominated – but never has it been mentioned that whatever we give, only two thirds of it would end up with the charities but one third would go to the United Synagogue’s money pot, with no specific information regarding its use.
Accordingly I decided that this year my entire seasonal donation will go to a charitable cause for which every penny will directly support its objective, with no ‘overheads’ for administrative costs. The front page of the JC (September 13) provided the perfect solution. Sarah Dafna of Prestwich is trying to raise £300,000 for a Hyperbaric Oxygen Machine to treat her young son’s brain damage, suffered through influenza. This has dramatically aided his recovery but at present each treatment session entails a five-hour return journey, and she wants to provide a local facility. I am sure that my late parents would have preferred me to support this tangible benefit rather than have their names printed on a transient sheet of paper.
Corbyn’s useful idiots
While I accept some of the points in defence of Labour made by Professors Robert Reiner and Joanna Benjamin (Letters, September 20), their description of the JC editor as “egregiously far-right” is absurd. Only the other week he was assailed by a correspondent for the paper’s scathing attack on Donald Trump, whom the paper said was a racist and a bully.
In politics, as in geography, a person standing on a steep slope can imagine the level ground in front of them is an opposite slope.
Professors Reiner and Benjamin need to escape from their academic world and allow some fresh air into their muddled minds. Sara Conway accepted that the language she used was wrong and rightly chose to withdraw her candidature as prospective Labour MP for Finchley and Golders Green. She had no chance of winning anyway and nor should any Labour candidate standing in this ward. The laughable claim by Reiner and Benjamin that the JC editor is “egregiously far right” (are they serious?) is typical of slovenly left wing liberal thinking — anybody who disagrees with their view is an extremist. Antisemitism has become deeply embedded in the Labour Party since Corbyn became leader to the extent that it is now being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Any Jew supporting it is merely one of Corbyn’s useful idiots.