UNITED SYNAGOGUE DEMOCRACY IS LACKING
Simon Rocker’s plea for democracy in the United Synagogue ( JC, April 25) is welcome, but it is grossly under-stated. While the hiring of a rabbi requires a vote of the shul membership, that same rabbi can then be fired by just one or two “toxic leaders”. And even at the AGM, members are prohibited from submitting a motion and seeking a vote. I received the following from a US official prior to my shul’s AGM in 2007: “There is no power in the bye-laws which allows members to vote on matters, so members have no right either to raise a motion at an AGM or to vote on any points raised. You cannot prevent a matter being discussed at an AGM, but whoever is chairing the meeting should not allow the motion to be voted on.”
Yet we expect trade unions to ballot their entire membership on Israel boycott motions? Jonathan Hoffman email@example.com
Simon Rocker’s comments on the United Synagogue suggest a malaise which is clearly undesirable. My recent experience revealed an initial degree of incompetence and ended with a disgraceful display of utter disregard by the honorary officers for a member of the community.
In November 2007 I notified my shul that I was terminating my membership following removal from the district.
December would see the last of the instalments for the year’s membership fees.
Whilst away on holiday in late FebruaryMarch, my previous shul wrote to me, at my new address, informing me of the fees for 2008 and that monthly deductions would be made by direct debit. By the time we returned, money had been taken from my bank account.
As I was not a member of the US this struck me as a grossly illegal action — if not frank theft.
Despite frequent communications with the shul office, it took almost three weeks for a cheque to be sent reimbursing me. The envelope contained no compliments slip, no apology for taking money from my bank account in such an unauthorised way, not a trace of menschkeit. Dr L S Bernstein London N20 Please note that individual letters cannot be acknowledged. Letters may be edited. The email address for correspondence is: firstname.lastname@example.org. All correspondents are requested to supply their postal address, even when writing by email.