Revealed: the prospective new rabbi of Kinloss

Rabbi Yoni Birnbaum is set to return to the United Synagogue as the senior rabbi of Finchley


Finchley bound: Rabbi Yoni Birnbaum

Rabbi Yoni and Rebbetzin Elisheva Birnbaum of the independent Toras Chaim community in Hendon have been approached to be the new senior rabbinic couple of one of the biggest United Synagogue communities, Finchley.

If the congregation approves their appointment, they will take up their new post in September.

Rabbi Birnbaum would succeed Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence, who left Finchley in May last year.

Finchley co-chairs Darren Lewis and Jeremy Mindell said the synagogue had been “fortunate to have a large pool of talented and accomplished applicants apply for the roles. Rabbi Dr and Rebbetzen Birnbaum impressed the rabbinical selection committee with their extensive Torah knowledge, vast community experience, strong engagement and leadership skills".

Both the committee and the synagogue’s council were unanimous that they “displayed exceptional talents which we are confident will lead the community forward to new heights”.
The co-chairs said they were “excited by what this means for our community”. 

The Birnbaums will visit Kinloss for Shabbat April 5-6, after which the congregation will vote. Under US bye-laws, the appointment would need to be ratified by 75 per cent of the vote.

If approved, it would mark a return to the US for the Birnbaums, who were previously the spiritual leaders of Hadley Wood Synagogue.

David Bloom, chair of Kehillas Toras Chaim, told members on Monday that it was “with great sadness” that he was informing them of the departure of the couple “after four impactful years of service”.

The shul had been “tremendously galvanized by the arrival of the Birnbaum family and the work that they have put in with the Board and others to enhance the kehillah,” he said.

Extending “heartfelt appreciation,” he said, their tenure had been “marked by unwavering dedication and a genuine commitment to our collective wellbeing and on behalf of the kehillah”.

A Hasmonean High School alumnus, Rabbi Birnbaum has a law degree from the Open University and a masters degree and doctoraete in Jewish studies from UCL. He studied at yeshivot in the UK and Israel. His book on rabbinic responses to “modernity, science and tragedy” was published in 2017.

At his induction, Rabbi Birnbaum was described by the then minister of Cockfosters and North Southgate Synagogue Rabbi Yisroel Fine as "a model of the new United Synagogue rabbi, a man of substance with the ability to communicate".

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