The senior rabbi of one of the United Synagogue’s largest congregations, Finchley (Kinloss), has unexpectedly stepped down from his position.
The departure of Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence after nearly nine years was announced to members late on Monday night in an email from the joint chairmen Darren Lewis and Jeremy Mindell.
On Tuesday, his name was absent from the rabbinical team listed on the shul’s website.
An email dated April 28 informed members that Rabbi Lawrence would be “taking a couple of weeks leave for professional development”.
In last night’s email, the chairmen said, “We had beneﬁted from his pastoral care for so many in our community, his thoughtful teaching and his commitment to deliver meaningful life-cycle events. The Rabbi and Mandy have spearheaded successful developments both at Kinloss and at Sacks Morasha JPS.”
They added that Rabbi Lawrence was “looking forward to the opportunity to spread his wings professionally. Although he will not be returning to Kinloss as our senior rabbi, he will always be welcome back in Kinloss as a friend and visiting rabbi.
“The entire Lawrence family is highly regarded by our members and in the wider Jewish community. In due course, there will be a farewell event and we will let the community know when this is planned.”
They said Rabbi Lawrence would be taking a sabbatical before his “formal departure”.
In a message shared in the chairmen’s email, Rabbi Lawrence said, “Like many of us, post-Covid, I welcome the chance to give some time to new horizons. After almost three decades as a congregational rabbi, I have a great deal to oﬀer but also relish the chance to learn.
“Kinloss has been my strong focus over the last many years and it is a community that I love. A large congregation is a tireless master, and I am keen to have greater scope to further my experience in interfaith and media.
“I do, however, look forward to being able to accept long-standing invitations to act as scholar-in-residence at other synagogues.”
The email also included comments from Jo Grose, chief executive of the United Synagogue, who said Rabbi Lawrence had “made a great impact on the Kinloss and wider community in his time as senior rabbi.”
Rabbi Lawrence succeeded Sir Ephraim Mirvis following his appointment as Chief Rabbi.
The congregation’s assistant rabbi, Michael Laitner, who works during the week as the United Synaogue’s director of education, left Kinloss before Pesach and Rabbi Yisroel Fine, who retired from Cockfosters and North Southgate United Synagogue a decade ago has stepped in on a part-time basis to assist.