The lay leaders of the Manchester Beth Din are ceding control of the organisation to synagogue rabbis amid a split within the religious authority for the city’s central Orthodox community .
Notices appeared last week announcing the establishment of a rival beth din, Badatz Manchester, by one of the MBD’s dayanim, Yehuda Steiner.
On Tuesday this week, MBD president Jeremy Nussbaum and his five officers issued a statement saying they would be handing over to the rabbinate of the synagogues which support it, known as the R27.
The statement gave little detail other than a handover to the R27 was expected to take place shortly, with the hope that “the rabbinate will be able to bring long-term stability”.
It followed discussions over “some weeks” between the MBD’s officers and the R27.
MBD’s lay leaders said that at a March meeting, they offered the rabbinate the opportunity to become trustees and directors in order to “make the charity more communal in nature”.
One of the rabbis believed to have been heavily involved in the talks would say only this week that “we are still in the midst of negotiations”, but hoped these would be concluded soon.
“Until we finish the negotiations, anything is still possible,” he said.
The MBD, whose religious head is Dayan Isaac Berger, oversees the Manchester Kashrus Authority and other facilities such as the eruv. According to its 2017 accounts, it had an income of around £290,000.
A source close to the MBD said it had opened discussions with the London Beth Din and the Federation of Synagogues Beth Din a year and a half ago to explore the possibility of “a joint venture”.
But Dayan Steiner had been bitterly opposed to discussions with the London authorities.
The MBD was “quite old fashioned”, the source added.
As for the plan to yield control to the R27, he said: “We never intended railroading the community into anything the community didn’t want.”
Dayan Steiner was unavailable for comment.
The notice about the launch of Badatz Manchester stated that the dayan resigned from the Manchester Beth Din earlier this month for “complex” reasons.
But the services he had offered for 18 years would “continue as before” under the aegis of Badatz Manchester, rather than the Manchester Beth Din.
According to the notice, the new organisation would be seeking representation from “all shuls” within the community.