Wimbledon plays the long game in search for rabbi

South London's biggest community is taking its time finding a new minister


More than a year after the departure of Rabbi Jason Rosner as its full-time minister, Wimbledon Reform, South London’s biggest congregation, says it is not rushing its search for a replacement.

Festival services are being conducted by former Bromley Reform rabbi Tony Hammond, who the 700 member community recruited as interim minister while the hunt for “the right person” for the permanent role continues.

Shul chair Stella Mason said the congregation was disappointed that Rabbi Rosner spent just 10 months at Wimbledon, particularly as the shul went through a lengthy process to obtain a work permit for the American minister.

Cultural differences and cost of living issues had contributed to his decision to curtail his stay.

The Rosners had struggled to adapt to London life after living in Los Angeles.

“We were hopeful we would have a rabbi for a number of years but it just didn’t work out.

“We are very happy with Rabbi Hammond, who agreed to work with us until we find the right person or team of people.

“He has met all the pastoral needs and he’s very well-liked by the community — the children love him.”

This had given the synagogue the breathing space to “do a proper consultation with our members and to look for the right person”.

Members’ preference would be for a rabbi with an “awareness of British Reform traditions”, capable of inspiring both old and young to “connect with their Jewishness”.

Mrs Mason wanted the next minister to remain with the congregation for the better part of 10 years.

But the synagogue has at least made one new appointment — cheder headteacher Bat-hen Shahar.


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