Sephardim hope for fresh start af­ter elec­tions

The Jewish Chronicle - - Community - BY SI­MON ROCKER

SEPHARDI LEAD­ERS hope to put re­cent trou­bles be­hind them and make a fresh start in find­ing a new spir­i­tual head af­ter changes to the ex­ec­u­tive and board of el­ders.

Sev­eral new faces, in­clud­ing 26-yearold An­thony Tri­cot — be­lieved to be one of the con­gre­ga­tion’s youngest ever el­ders — have joined the top ta­ble of the Span­ish and Por­tuguese Jews’ Con­gre­ga­tion in one of its most keenly fought elec­tions in re­cent his­tory.

It fol­lowed months of dis­pute within the com­mu­nity over the fail­ure to re­cruit Rabbi David Bas­sous as its new spir­i­tual head — and over the re­tire­ment this sum­mer of the ex­ist­ing head, Rabbi Abra­ham Levy, two years be­fore the end of his con­tract.

London-born Rabbi Bas­sous, who runs a con­gre­ga­tion in New Jer­sey, had been rec­om­mended by the pre­vi­ous ma­hamad (ex­ec­u­tive) and el­ders. But he with­drew af­ter the re­sult of a con­gre­gants’ bal­lot to ap­prove him was chal­lenged by an op­po­si­tion group known as the “con­cerned mem­bers”.

Adam Musikant, who chaired the ma­hamad dur­ing the episode, won a re­sound­ing vote of con­fi­dence by top­ping the bal­lot for the three va­cant ex­ec­u­tive seats, con­tested by six can­di­dates. Fel­low ma­hamad mem­ber Su­san Kan­del was also re-elected, pip­ping Bar­bara Si­mons by four votes af­ter a re­count. Peter Fraiman, who came sec­ond in the poll, joins the ex­ec­u­tive team.

Mr Musikant looked for­ward “to work­ing with our new col­leagues in mov­ing the con­gre­ga­tion for­ward in a con­sen­sual and united man­ner. The board will con­vene af­ter Pe­sach to con­firm plans for find­ing our new leader.”

No fewer than 10 can­di­dates com­peted for four el­ders’ places,+ with the bal­lot topped by David Ereira, chair­man of the build­ing fund, who is seen as an ally of the pre­vi­ous ex­ec­u­tive.

Mr Tri­cot, who runs Bendig­amos, the group for young Sephardim, wants “to make the Span­ish and Por­tuguese com­mu­nity rel­e­vant to the Face­book gen­er­a­tion. We must draw on the suc­cess of Bendig­amos in at­tract­ing a wide range of peo­ple, in­clud­ing Ashke­nazi and un­af­fil­i­ated Jews, to our com­mu­nity and in em­pha­sis­ing our tra­di­tional yet in­clu­sive Sephardic cul­ture.” Daniel Et­ting­hausen was re-elected to the el­ders, but Stu­art Mor­ganstein lost his seat. Con­cerned mem­bers leader Alan Bekhor was in fourth place, but he will be forced to step aside be­cause of a con­sti­tu­tional quirk. Ac­cord­ing to the com­mu­nity’s rules, there must be a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from each of Laud­erdale Road, Wem­b­ley Sephardi and Be­vis Marks on the el­ders.

Since this con­di­tion would not have been oth­er­wise met, Kris Musikant from Be­vis Marks — the mother of Adam Musikant — re­tains her seat on the el­ders, hav­ing fin­ished only fifth in the elec­tion.

But, un­like the ill-fated bal­lot over Rabbi Bas­sous, the re­sults should not be chal­lenged. The poll was su­per­vised by the Elec­toral Re­form So­ci­ety.

New ma­hamad chair­man Howard Martin ap­pre­ci­ated that there were “dif­fer­ent views but we hope we can bring them to­gether”.

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