Rabbi quits largest US congregation after period of unexplained leave

Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz is leaving Borehamwood and Elstree shul with immediate effect


The rabbi of the United Synagogue’s largest congregation, Borehamwood and Elstree, has quit after being on unexplained leave for a month.

Simon Mitchell, BES chairman, notified members today that the synagogue had been informed by Rabbi Chaim and Bianca Kanterovitz that “they wish to leave their roles as senior rabbi and rebbetzin of our community”.

They will quit their positions immediately, although remain in the rabbi’s residence in the community for the next few months.

Members of the congregation had been left bemused after an announcement in October that Rabbi Kanterovitz was taking a “period of leave” without any indication of when he might return.

Earlier this month, he was a guest speaker at Manchester’s Stenecourt Synagogue, where he gave a sermon and several talks over Shabbat in a programme sponsored by Mizrachi UK, whose rabbinic committee Rabbi Kanterovitz chairs.

Mr Mitchell gave no reason for their sudden departure after five years with the community.

He said Rabbi and Mrs Kanterovitz had been “a core part of the sustained growth in our community. On behalf of the community, I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their work and achievements at BES."

He conveyed a message from Rabbi Kanterovitz which read, “Over the past five years Bianca and I have really enjoyed our time leading the BES community. We would like to thank the honorary officers and the whole community for their support over this period and know we leave the community in a stronger position than we found it. The time is right for us to move on but BES has a bright future and we will be following it closely and with fond memories."

Paying tribute, US chief executive Steven Wilson said: “In their time as Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue’s senior rabbinic couple, the community has seen a remarkable growth in the shul and its activities. We wish Rabbi and Bianca Kanterovitz well for the future.”

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