West End Great quits home after 'excessive' rise


The independent West End Great community is to leave Western Marble Arch Synagogue at the end of February after being asked to pay substantially more to remain.

West End Great has held services there for around 20 years after selling its own premises in Soho. West End Great president Harvey Lawrence said that a 66 per cent increase requested by WMA for use of the bet hamidrash and a small office had been deemed "excessive" by its board.

According to its 2014 accounts, West End Great's 362-member congregation were paying a total £18,300 to WMA.

In a letter to congregants, Mr Lawrence said the board was exploring "a number of opportunities". One option included "the purchase of an interest in a West End freehold property housing a new shul and cultural centre". The shul would "be known as sponsored by the West End Great Synagogue, thereby ensuring the longevity and wishes of the founder members". Another was "establishing an affiliation with a fellow West End synagogue".

In the meantime, interim arrangements were being made for Shabbat services.

The community has a chazan, the Reverend Ari Cohen, and an honorary rabbi, Yisroel Lew of Chabad Bloomsbury. The accounts show it holds assets of more than £600,000.

No one from WMA was available for comment.

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