Leeds rabbi says goodbye - but not the reason why


Congregants of the United Hebrew Congregation in Leeds who attended the Shabbat morning service hoping to discover the reasons for the sudden departure of Rabbi Daniel Levy left little the wiser.

In an emotionally charged 30-minute valedictory sermon, Rabbi Daniel Levy said leaders did not always get to see the end of their mission. Instead they handed over to others. That was as revelatory as it got.

The sermon focused on Moses handing over his leadership of the Jewish people to Joshua. He said that Moses's final address had been "a sad occasion, since he knew that once he finished, his role would end and he would not see the Promised Land".

Rabbi Levy - who served UHC for almost 15 years - did reiterate that he and his family intended to remain in Leeds, as he regarded the city as his home. He also thanked members for their support throughout his tenure. Worshippers listened attentively and there was stunned silence when he stepped down from the pulpit.

Regular congregant Simon Phillips said afterwards: "With his departure, as with Moses, it is the end of an era. Rabbi Levy has been an inspiration to so many people, myself included. His work, both pastoral and religious, has been appreciated and valued by many within the UHC and beyond." Among Rabbi Levy's achievements have been the introduction of Shabbat learning programmes and the pre-Shavuot and winter educational fests.

Fellow Leeds minister Rabbi Jason Kleiman of the Beth Hamidrash Hagadol Synagogue praised him as "a wonderful innovator of community-wide education initiatives".

UHC chazan Albert Chait, who now becomes chazan/minister, had "hugely benefited from Rabbi Levy's guidance," said shul president Paul Berwin. But Mr Berwin declined to shed light on the background to the rabbi's departure.

"I have nothing to add to the original announcement and I don't expect Rabbi Levy will."

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