The director of an events company hired by Jewish families to organise weddings, bar- and batmizvahs and other simchahs has gone into hiding owing thousands of pounds to customers.
Jonathan Groman — whose company was previously hired by the United Synagogue to host a Shabbat UK Challah Bake event attended by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis — pulled out of one batmitzvah he had been booked to arrange just three days before the event and has failed to refund the money he was paid.
At least two customers have reported Mr Groman to City of London Police claiming he defrauded them out of money after cancelling events at short notice, including two 50th birthday parties.
Records show that Mr Groman’s business — Jonathan Daniel Limited which traded as Tent-Events — was placed into liquidation by his estranged wife Emma in October 2017.
Mr Groman has apparently continued to trade illegally after this date, but flew to Canada last month and, customers claim, has remained uncontactable, even though he is now believed to have returned to the UK.
An administrator of a Facebook page providing advice to parents arranging bat- and barmitzvah parties said they had blocked Mr Groman from the site after learning he was going into liquidation “but still taking deposits”.
One post on the page, which is called Top Tips for Barmitvah & Bat Mitzvah Mums and Dads, claimed Mr Groman had “ruined my son’s barmitzvah in 2006” with the woman writer adding she was “not surprised” by anything she now read about his conduct.
Evan Lever, from Cockfosters, North London, told the JC of his horror the day he learned that Mr Groman would not be able to honour a booking made through Tent-Events to erect a marquee for his daughter’s batmitzvah.
He said: “We had booked Tent-Events back in January 2017, to run our daughter’s batmitzvah which was being held on December 30th, 12 months later.
“It was early December when Jonathan put pressure on us to make the final payment after we had already put down a £1,155 deposit. The marquees we had requested were partially erected and we were told that they would be back on the 27th of the month to finish it off.
“But that day we received a call from someone who said they were a friend of Jonathan. They said he was not now in a position to run our event and we should make alternative plans. It was at this point I discovered that the company had been placed into liquidation.”
The £4,000 Mr Lever paid to Mr Groman has not been refunded.
Mr Lever said only last-minute help from fellow members of Finchley Reform Synagogue allowed the family to stage the batmitzvah.
He said one week after the event, several of Mr Groman’s former employees came to the family’s house to apologise for what had happened. “They were owed a few thousand pounds themselves by Tent-Events,” Mr Lever claimed. “The most disgraceful bit was that he had not provided payslips over a period of five years and these guys could not claim unemployment benefit.”
A search by the JC of Mr Groman’s listed businesses — which include The Johnny G Experience Ltd and Emma G Ltd — revealed two unsatisfied County Court Judgements against him issued in 2015 and 2017.
Financial reports also deem his business credit record to be “high risk.”
But in December 2015 Mr Groman, from Barnet, bragged in a newspaper interview how Tent-Events completed bookings “to a high-tech spec”.
Insisting he had built up his business catering to a “very special niche market”, he claimed his “most special” memory was “putting together the first [Shabbat UK] Challah Bake-Off at Allianz Park for 3,500 people and having the Chief Rabbi standing under our banners smiling at me — it was a beautiful evening.”
Another customer told the JC how he had booked Mr Groman’s company to organise a 50th birthday party at his home in Hertfordshire.
“I was recommended Tent-Events as a marquee company worth using for my party,” the customer, who did not want to be named, recalled. “Jonathan came over and told me all the stuff he was going to provide — the nice marquee, the flooring, the bar.
“I paid in full for the whole shebang, like a bit of a fool really. It was around £7,000. Then a few weeks passed and I tried to contact Jonathan. He just wasn’t coming back to me. A week before event he did call and assured me there were no issues.”
But Mr Groman then admitted he was unable to organise the bar for the party, for which the customer had paid £1,700.
The customer said: “In the end I got another company to provide the bar. I did get a marquee delivered by people working for Jonathan but loads of parts were missing. Jonathan admitted owing me money. I told him it totalled nearly £3,000. But I’ve heard nothing from him.
“It’s disgusting the way he has behaved. I’ve contacted the courts over this.”
Another customer said she had hired Mr Groman’s company in December 2017 to arrange her 50th birthday party at her home in North-West London.
“I booked him to do the lighting, the marquee, the bar, the bar staff, alcohol, all the food — everything apart from the DJ,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.
“He took £1,750 from us as a deposit.”
The customer said she had little communication from Mr Groman since then.
“Three weeks ago he messaged me to say he was out of the country, but would call me back later. I haven’t heard a thing from him since. A week ago I sent him a message saying ‘Is my party going to happen?’ I’ve heard nothing.”
The woman said she had reported Mr Groman to the fraud squad.
City of London Police confirmed that an allegations of alleged fraud was being assessed against Mr Groman by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.
Mr Groman did not respond to repeated requests for comment.