Re­form forced to shut North­ern of­fice

The Jewish Chronicle - - Community Life - BY SI­MON ROCKER

THE RE­FORM Move­ment is to close its North­ern of­fice in Manch­ester as part of a pack­age of cuts caused by the gen­eral fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

Three staff are to be laid off in the syn­a­gogue ser­vices depart­ment, ad­min and IT, mem­bers of the move­ment’s coun­cil were told at a quar­terly meet­ing in Lon­don on Sun­day.

De­spite an in­creased yield from its an­nual din­ner ear­lier this month, the Re­form’s fundrais­ing tar­get of £980,000 is likely to fall short by £21,000 this year: and it is plan­ning to cut is spending by around £270,000 to just over £3 mil­lion next year.

Stephen Moss, the move­ment’s chair­man, said: “It is a dif­fi­cult time. The word we are fo­cus­ing on is pru­dence.” But he added that the sit­u­a­tion was “not as bad as it might have been if we weren’t run­ning al­ready a very ef­fi­cient or­gan­i­sa­tion”.

One or two syn­a­gogues are al­ready known to be un­likely to meet their pro­jected con­tri­bu­tions to the move­ment this year, while Rabbi Dr Tony Bay­field, the move­ment’s head, re­ported that sev­eral sig­nif­i­cant donors “have been badly af­fected by the bank­ing cri­sis”.

The move­ment has also had to con­tend with higher than ex­pected costs for re­pair­ing an 18th-cen­tury wall around the Stern­berg Cen­tre in Finch­ley: and for youth tours to Is­rael, be­cause of the shekel’s strength against the dol­lar.

Its op­er­at­ing plan pre­sented to the meet­ing states: “The cost ben­e­fit of clos­ing the North­ern of­fice and sub­se­quently mak­ing one of our North­ern staff re­dun­dant is sub­stan­tial and nec­es­sary in or­der to bal­ance the bud­get.”

It says that the Re­form’s ex­ec­u­tive board be­lieves that “other mem­bers of the syn­a­gogue ser­vices team could be de­ployed dif­fer­ently in or­der to en­sure that the North­ern com­mu­ni­ties con­tinue to be served ef­fec­tively”.

Belinda Co­pitch, di­rec­tor of North­ern de­vel­op­ment, said: “Noth­ing has been de­cided as yet. I am con­tin­u­ing to sup­port con­stituent com­mu­ni­ties.”

Jonathan Lewis, chair­man of the North­ern syn­a­gogues’ net­work, said that the clo­sure of the of­fice was “a sad thing…but I un­der­stand it”.

But the move­ment is plan­ning to in­crease spending on its Jeneration project for young adults from around £125,000 to £175,000 next year.

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