Be­vis Marks chiefs to face down rebels

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY SI­MON ROCKER

SUP­PORT­ERS OF the sus­pended rabbi of Be­vis Marks Syn­a­gogue in east Lon­don are set for a show­down with Sephardi leaders at a spe­cial meet­ing next Thurs­day.

More than 40 mem­bers of the Span­ish and Por­tuguese Jews’ Con­gre­ga­tion have backed a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in the ma­hamad, the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee of the con­gre­ga­tion.

But the ma­hamad has tabled its own mo­tion, call­ing for sup­port among the wider mem­ber­ship, and say­ing that any em­bar­rass­ment to the con­gre­ga­tion is be­cause of “ir­re­spon­si­ble com­ments” to the me­dia from some Be­vis Marks mem­bers.

Rabbi As­moucha was sus­pended by the ma­hamad nearly three months ago fol­low­ing his par­tic­i­pa­tion in an in­ter­faith demon­stra­tion against high bank in­ter­est rates. He is due to face a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing over the af­fair, which could re­sult in his dis­missal.

His Be­vis Marks sup­port­ers are now call­ing for the post­pone­ment of any dis­ci­plinary action and “any steps lead­ing to his de­par­ture from the con­gre­ga­tion”. They had al­ready been an­gered by pro­pos­als from the ma­hamad, be­fore the July in­ci­dent, which could have led to Rabbi As­moucha be­ing made re­dun­dant.

But in a let­ter to Span­ish and Por­tuguese mem­bers no­ti­fy­ing them of next week’s meet­ing, Ed­ward Shaoul, the ma­hamad’s new par­nas pres­i­dente (chair­man), says that the “un­for­tu­nate pub­lic­ity” over the prob­lems at Be­vis Marks had been “wholly gen­er­ated by mem­bers of Be­vis Marks. Sadly, this has re­sulted in dam­ag­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of your com­mu­nity.”

The ma­hamad’s mo­tion says that by nex­tweek’smeet­ing,“the­si­t­u­a­tion­with Rabbi As­moucha may be re­solved”.

It seeks a man­date to pur­sue a “costre­duc­tion and rev­enue gen­er­a­tion pro­gramme” at Be­vis Marks rather than to have to raise fin­tas (mem­ber­ship dues) among the con­gre­ga­tion’s three con­stituent syn­a­gogues.

It also asks that the ma­hamad and the board of el­ders be em­pow­ered “to take what­ever steps they feel nec­es­sary in line with em­ploy­ment law should the need arise to dis­ci­pline the con­gre­ga­tion’s em­ploy­ees”.

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