Pres­i­dent re­buts ‘lies’ about rabbi

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY - BY JOSH JACKMAN

SOUTHEND AND West­cliff He­brew Con­gre­ga­tion pres­i­dent Derek Sil­ver­stone has writ­ten to mem­bers warn­ing that “in­ac­cu­rate and even of­fen­sive” ru­mours about min­is­ter Rabbi Binyamin Bar had been “cir­cu­lated by peo­ple who have no de­sire to heal our com­mu­nity”.

Rabbi Bar was for­mally re­in­stated as min­is­ter in May, five months af­ter be­ing dis­missed by the shul’s pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion. In his let­ter, Mr Sil­ver­stone main­tained that ru­mours “about the sack­ing of Rabbi Bar, his salary, of­fers of loans etc” were un­true.

Speak­ing to the JC on Wed­nes­day, Mr Sil­ver­stone said that some con­gre­gants were “still try­ing to dig the knife in” and had been spread­ing “down­right lies”, suggest­ing the coun­cil had given the rabbi “a big loan so he could make a fan­tas­tic wed­ding for him­self”. In fact, he said, there was no wed­ding on the hori­zon.

“When I at­tend ser­vices, peo­ple have been say­ing: ‘Is it true, is it hap­pen­ing? What do you think about so-and-so?’ It came to a point where I said: ‘I’ve got to stop th­ese ru­mours.’ I be­lieve in fair play.”

In the let­ter to mem­bers, Mr Sil­ver­stone wrote that, hav­ing con­sid­ered the ma­te­rial pre­sented by ex-pres­i­dent Stephen Salt and solic­i­tors act­ing for the pre­vi­ous shul coun­cil, he had found “not a sin­gle piece of ev­i­dence that would sup­port sum­mar­ily dis­miss­ing Rabbi Bar”.

He ac­cused the pre­vi­ous regime of “ill-thought-out ac­tion and a lack of ac­count­abil­ity to mem­bers”, which had cost the shul more than £40,000 in ex­penses. Mr Sil­ver­stone as­sured con­gre­gants that, mov­ing f o r ward, all voices would be heard. “No one i n this com­mu­nity has a greater say than any­one else. We are all equal and each mem­ber is en­ti­tled to know what is hap­pen­ing and to ex­press a view on how the com­mu­nity is run.”

Life­long Southend and West­cliff mem­ber Den­nis Baum be­lieved the pres­i­dent had taken un­nec­es­sary heed of “peo­ple who aren’t very prom­i­nent in the com­mu­nity who like a bit of gos­sip and have been moan­ing a bit. Derek, in my opin­ion, over­re­acted to what they’ve been say­ing.”

Rabbi Bar de­clined to com­ment.

‘I’ve got to stop th­ese ru­mours. I be­lieve in fair play’

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