Barnet’s mem­bers vote for full US sta­tus

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY LIFE - BY JAY GRENBY

BARNET SYN­A­GOGUE mem­bers voted over­whelm­ingly on Mon­day to up­grade from af­fil­i­ated sta­tus to full con­stituent mem­ber­ship of the United Syn­a­gogue. Shul chair­man Paul Klein­man said the change was “at the right time” and “on the right terms” for the con­gre­ga­tion.

At an ex­tra­or­di­nary gen­eral meet­ing, over 100 mem­bers heard Mr Klein­man out­line the ben­e­fits to the con­gre­ga­tion, and US vice-pres­i­dent Ge­off Hart­nell ex­plain the US’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. Fol­low­ing a lively de­bate, around 90 per cent backed the board’s rec­om­men­da­tion to up­grade.

Mr Klein­man told the JC af­ter­wards: “We are de­lighted to have suc­ceeded in mov­ing our com­mu­nity for­ward by join­ing the US as a full mem­ber. We have been talk­ing to the US for some years on this is­sue — in­deed, I first be­gan dis­cussing it with them some 20 years ago when I was the shul’s fi­nan­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive. But up till now, it hadn’t seemed the right time. We ne­go­ti­ated a nice deal and have gone in on terms we found ac­cept­able and which we be­lieve will be ben­e­fi­cial to our com­mu­nity.”

It is un­der­stood that the agree­ment in­cludes keep­ing Barnet’s “pay­over” rate to the US around its cur­rent level and the US mak­ing a grant to­wards the fu­ture cap­i­tal costs of the shul, which two years ago started a re­fur­bish­ment and im­prove­ment pro­gramme. It was the first syn­a­gogue in the coun­try to in­cor­po­rate a Shab­bat-com­pli­ant lift.

Cel­e­brat­ing the 60th an­niver­sary of its es­tab­lish­ment, Barnet af­fil­i­ated to the US in 1954 be­fore ac­quir­ing its own build­ing. To­day, its 550 mem­bers are pre­dom­i­nantly at the younger end of the age scale.

Wel­com­ing Barnet’s de­ci­sion, US pres­i­dent Si­mon Hochhauser said: “The essence of the United Syn­a­gogue lies in the mu­tual na­ture of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween its com­mu­ni­ties. We want to give our mem­ber syn­a­gogues the clear mes­sage that their des­tiny lies very much in their own hands.

“The role of the cen­tre is to sup­port as­pi­ra­tions. We will work tire­lessly to en­sure your con­tin­ued unique char­ac­ter and in­de­pen­dence of spirit.”

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