STA­TIS­TI­CAL FUDGE

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment & Analysis -

Jeremy Jacobs ( Let­ters, July 29) stated that Or­tho­doxy ac­counts for 69 per cent of UK synagogue mem­ber­ship and, in his Com­ment ar­ti­cle ( JC Au­gust 12), ad­justed this to 70 per cent. But, ac­cord­ing to re­search car­ried out by David Graham and Daniel Vulkan, pub­lished on the Board of Deputies web­site, cen­tral Or­tho­doxy, to which the United Synagogue be­longs, has 55 per cent of synagogue mem­ber­ship in the UK.

Cen­tral Or­tho­doxy, ac­cord­ing to this re­search, lost 20,808 mem­ber house­holds over a 20-year pe­riod, rep­re­sent­ing a de­cline of 31.4 per cent.

I be­lieve it to be disin­gen­u­ous of Mr Jacobs to at­tack Re­form Ju­daism, which, over the same pe­riod, lost only 4.2 per cent of its mem­ber­ship base and grew as a per­cent­age. Growth in Or­tho­doxy was in the strictly Ortho­dox com­mu­nity only. Non-Ortho­dox streams of Ju­daism grew by around five per cent over this 20-year pe­riod.

Jacobs uses Pro­gres­sive Ju­daism in the USA as an ex­am­ple of a shrink­ing and as­sim­i­lat­ing com­mu­nity, yet fails to ac­knowl­edge why his own con­gre­ga­tion is the fastest shrink­ing in the UK. Steven Bar­nett Finch­ley Road, NW11

My wife and I are United Synagogue mem­bers and heartily en­dorse Jeremy Jacobs’s opin­ion. The Jewish re­li­gion needs to have strict rules at the top to re­tain Ju­daism for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, whether or not these rules are fol­lowed by US mem­bers.

When I asked a non-frum, US mem­ber friend why he did not join a Re­form synagogue, the re­ply was: “How many or few of the laws of Ju­daism I keep is my busi­ness, and there is no rea­son for the laws to be wa­tered down for my ben­e­fit”. H I Stone Lodge Close, Edg­ware, Mid­dle­sex

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