United Synagogue president Stephen Pack’s warning that Reform candidate Laura Marks would be a “divisive” choice as president of the Board of Deputies has been sharply criticised by his predecessor.
Simon Hochhauser, who chaired the US from 2005 to 2011, said Mr Pack’s intervention was “wrong in principle and as a tactic”.
Mr Pack said that last week that if Ms Marks were elected next month, it could result in the US distancing itself from the Board.
Dr Hochhauser, who chairs the circumcision defence group Milah UK, said: “The Jewish community is very healthily divided along many lines. The Board of Deputies is the one organisation where we all come together and we expect the diversity of views will be represented.
“The last thing we want to do is to is to turn our Board into a denominational battleground.”
The only basis for selecting the Board' presidents was “number one, on their policy, and number two, on their ability to carry out that policy”.
Dr Hochhauser – who himself had been tipped as a potential presidential candidate – made it clear that he would not be standing for the position this year because of other commitments.
“Maybe next time round, I’ll be able to clear the decks,” he said.
He said he would also be writing to the US trustees to clarify whether they supported distancing the organisation from the Board if Ms Marks were elected.