Notts still keen to join US despite rabbi's opposition


Lay leaders of Nottingham Hebrew Congregation are pressing ahead with plans to join the London-based United Synagogue despite the steadfast opposition of the community's rabbi.

In a letter to members, Nottingham's acting president Stuart Joseph wrote that a "large majority" of the executive had last week approved a deal with the US.

However, he apologised for postponing a ballot of Nottingham's membership - due to have been held this month - on whether to support the move. The agreement with the US was "still in draft and needs the US and NHC [Nottingham] solicitors to finalise it before it can be presented to the US trustees and to our membership".

The delay in putting the proposal to a members' vote would be "for a short period while those actions are concluded", Mr Joseph added. "I know this will be a big disappointment to most members as they have already seen one delay."

But NHC's Rabbi Moshe Perez insists that the 125-year-old congregation would be better off maintaining its independence and continues to hope that the ballot will be called off.

"Our trustees have told the community that if we don't join the US, they would have to make me part-time and I would have to live in a temporary accommodation," Rabbi Perez said. "I have said 'yes' to that offer. I have said that I will work full-time on a part-time salary. I hope my community prevents any vote taking place, because it will only divide."

The pressures of sustaining a declining regional community led to Sheffield last year becoming the first northern congregation to join the US. Other communities outside the capital are believed to be exploring a similar arrangement.

US president Stephen Pack said he would be delighted if Nottingham decided to follow suit. "They are a great historic community and we would warmly welcome them as part of the US family."

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