Outspoken Golders Green rabbi who 'resigned' fights to stay

Aharon Bassous denies having given 'a valid and binding resignation' and says he has 'no intention of leaving' Beth Hamedrash Knesset Yehezkel


Rabbi Aharon Bassous, who reportedly told his Golders Green congregation he would be leaving last year, is now fighting to stay there in defiance of the wishes of its trustees. 

The outspoken head of Beth Hamedrash Knesset Yehezkel has denied he ever gave “a valid and binding resignation” and said he had “no intention of leaving my position as rabbi” in a letter to its trustees and a key donor. 

In the letter – which was posted on Twitter by the blogger IfYouTickleUs, he claimed that the majority of his congregation objected to his removal.

But in a letter in December, the trustees informed him they had no alternative but to “treat your resignation as running its course”, setting next Thursday as the date of his departure. 

On a Shabbat last August, Rabbi Bassous is understood to have told the community, which is affiliated to the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, that he would be leaving after Succot in October. One of the trustees, Dean Cohen, who was not present at the time, said he understood that Rabbi Bassous had “announced his resignation”. 

Trustees have since warned BHKY members that they might have to sell its new building, which opened only last year. There were more than £3 million of bank loans but planned activities for the synagogue had been affected by Covid restrictions. 

In his letter, Rabbi Bassous said it was “strictly forbidden” in Jewish law to remove a rabbi against his will without the ruling of a Beth Din. 

In another letter sent to the trustees last week, which has been seen by the JC, supporters of the rabbi said that he had built up the congregation “from scratch, with blood, sweat and tears over the past 33 years”, making it one of the country’s premier Sephardi communities. 

“We want him to remain in his position and notwithstanding any previous suggestions to the contrary, he does remain equally committed to his role,” they wrote. 

“We therefore object to any attempt to remove him for his position, directly or indirectly, as this would be extremely unfair for the rabbi, the rebbetzin and their family who have invested so much into building and shaping our community.” 

They said they were “not in favour of a split of our kehilla [community] and would very much welcome the trustees and their families/extended families back to our shul despite the tensions that have arisen over the last five months or so.” 

Objecting also to any sale or division of the building, they said it would make “a great deal of sense to continue to ‘ride the storm’ until the situation improves and look forward to continued use of our beautiful shul and all its facilities”. 

On Thursday the trustees were told by the Beth Din of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations that a rabbi cannot be removed against his will without a decision by a Beth Din that had heard both sides.

The Beth Din said it had written after a visit from supporters of Rabbi Bassous.

Rabbi Bassous has become a controversial figure in recent years, having attacked both the Senior Rabbi of the S & P Sephardi Community Joseph Dweck and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis over LGBT issues. 




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