The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment&analysis -

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 jonathan.hoff­man@bt­in­ter­net.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: let­ters@thejc.com. All cor­re­spon­dents are re­quested to sup­ply their postal ad­dress, even when writ­ing by email.

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