'This is an endemic problem': United Synagogue presidential candidates weigh in on falling membership

Jewish Policy Research has found that the number of households affiliated to synagogues in the UK has fallen by a fifth in 25 years


The two candidates standing to become the next president of the United Synagogue say this week’s report on declining membership is a major cause for concern for central Orthodoxy.

Michael Goldstein, who oversaw a growth of membership as president of Mill Hill Synagogue, said: “It is worrying in terms of attrition. But I would like to understand how that compares to the total Jewish population.

“It is sliding to the right and, to a lesser extent, the left too. The US needs to be widening its ambit, and making sure we offer an attractive membership. The US has not done enough to make membership attractive. It is an endemic problem but we are making it more severe than it needs to be.”

Russell Kett, his opponent and a former US vice-president, highlighted the move of members to the right, suggesting they may be attracted by smaller communities.

He said: “We have not been attracting new members in sufficient quantity to overcome the rate of decline.

“Whatever we do, we will need to provide both value for money and value for membership. But we need to move quickly.

“The experience of the US professional team will help bring these to fruition more quickly and more effectively.”

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