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Silkin moves as Beis Yisrael hits home problem

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The rabbi of a fledgling Borehamwood community has left the area after less than two years to live in more Orthodox Hendon.

In a farewell letter, Rabbi Shimshon Silkin, who launched Beis Yisrael in September 2013, wrote of the problem of trying to find permanent premises for the new community.

"Despite raising significant funds and two years of intensive searching, we have still come up short in trying to secure a building of our own to call home. We never envisaged it would be this difficult."

Although he plans to remain involved in its educational programmes, Rabbi Silkin said this week that Shabbat services would be put on ice until a home was found.

He had previously been interim head of Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue, but his supporters were disappointed that he was not appointed permanently as senior rabbi three years ago.

We never envisaged it would be this difficult

The following year, he turned down the possibility of leading a satellite of the US community at Yavneh College, instead launching Beis Yisrael, which is affiliated to the Ner Yisrael Synagogue in Hendon.

Rabbi Silkin said the move to Hendon was primarily for the sake of his seven children, as it was nearer to their schools. He would also be focusing on his role as director of Chazon UK, an informal education programme working with Charedi youth, which is run under the same trust as Aish and Gift.

Borehamwood was "a lovely place", but it felt the right time for his family to move away. However, he and his wife, Sarah, were committed to continuing their educational work in Hertfordshire.

In his letter, he wrote that "most of our nation's biggest stars of outreach [with the exception of Chabad] do exactly that - from the comfort of Orthodox neighbourhoods they reach out."

He added that, while he and his wife had "enjoyed our time at the helm in the local US, it was never really what we wanted; circumstances compelled us". They had no regrets about the close-on seven years they had spent in Borehamwood.

According to the letter, there had been plans for services to continue under the leadership of local Lubavitch emissary Rabbi Chaim Hoch.

Rabbi Silkin said this week that he still saw a need for a community such as Beis Yisrael centred on education.

Although growth had been hampered by the lack of a permanent building, attendance at services "shows there is a need for such a thing. One size doesn't fit all in this generation."

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