Sacked rabbi is backed for recall


Congregants of Southend rabbi Binyamin Bar - who was dismissed for "gross misconduct" but is continuing to lead services - have voted overwhelmingly for his reinstatement.

More than 300 Southend and Westcliff Hebrew Congregation members attended an EGM on Sunday, which was adjourned before a motion of no confidence in the executive went to a vote.

The adjournment was called by EGM convenor Alan Gershlick, a past Southend and Westcliff president.

Mr Gershlick said afterwards that given members' clear demonstration of support for Rabbi Bar, who addressed the meeting, it would be preferable to reach an amicable solution.

"Hopefully there will now be peace and calm and the synagogue council will reflect on the enormous support for Rabbi Bar.

"I sincerely hope another EGM isn't necessary. The community doesn't want it, so I hope a way forward is found."

Lifelong Southend and Westcliff member Dennis Baum proposed the amendment to reinstate Rabbi Bar, who is appealing against the board's decision to dismiss him on the grounds of "an irretrievable breakdown in working relationships" and alleged disciplinary matters.

He said the turnout in support of the rabbi at the EGM was telling and that the lay leadership should accept defeat. "There was little heard against the motion for the rabbi. Why take it to extra time?"

Shul president Stephen Salt acknow-ledged the passion of congregants, saying: "It is a testimony to the community that so many people attended the meeting and expressed their opinions. That vibrant commitment to the shul is very positive and will hopefully be sustained. Discussions are taking place to see if all matters can be resolved."

Rabbi Bar did not respond to requests for comment.

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