Leeds shul warns members: 'We'll close if you don't pay on time'

Beth Hamidrash Hagadol leaders 'surprised and upset' by drop in income


One of the main Orthodox synagogues in Leeds has reported a positive response from members after warning that it was running out of cash.

Leaders of Beth Hamidrash Hagadol Synagogue delivered a “stark” message three weeks ago that closure would be an option if members did not pay bills.

They had had been “surprised and upset” by a drop in income, which was more than a third lower than projected in March.

BHHS president Michael Eaton said it had experienced “a temporary cashflow issue. I am pleased to point out that this has been resolved.

“We asked members simply to pay on time.”

In a letter last month, he and fellow officers warned: “Even though we have furloughed our staff — save for the rabbonim, whose work is obviously essential, plus a skeleton office staff — cut our costs, stopped all services that are not strictly required and sought to make savings regarding the building, we are not equipped to cope with such a drastic loss of income.”

If the situation did not change, they would have to consider various options, including raising fees, charging those behind with payments non-member rates for services, or not supplying religious or pastoral services.

Ultimately, they would have to contemplate whether to continue as an organisation.

Although the synagogue site was “worth a considerable sum of money, we are not prepared to create a debt we have no prospect of meeting.

“The only source of income we have is you. It is as simple and as stark as that.”

BHHS has for some time been exploring a merger with another local Orthodox synagogue, Etz Chaim.

A decade ago BHHS’s Rabbi Jason Kleiman went even further, floating the idea of the two amalgamating with a third shul, the United Hebrew Congregation, to form a super-community.




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