Rabbinic Structure for 2019 announced

27 December 2018 – As we close out 2018, I wanted to write to you to share some exciting news. Since my last email, the Honorary Officers have been busy putting together both an interim rabbinic structure and a clear timetable for the consultation and potential creation of a new rabbinic structure for our community and associated recruitment.

Central to this has been the desire to not rest on our laurels, but to implement an interim team that will enable us to continue growing as a community while allowing us time to properly consult with you and develop the best rabbinic structure to help our community flourish for years to come. The change in rabbinic leadership has enabled an exciting opportunity to review and replenish our rabbinic structure to best serve the pastoral needs of the community whilst delivering inspiring religious and educational programmes, and it is one I hope you will all take the opportunity to contribute towards.

Firstly, let me set out the rabbinic provision for 2019. I am incredibly grateful to Rabbi Chapper, who, over the past months, has shown tremendous leadership and an astounding work rate to keep our community on track. For 2019, Rabbi Chapper will be retaining his role of Community Rabbi but will also pick up leadership responsibility for the rabbinic function. Rabbi Chapper will be balancing his time across both sites on Shabbat/Yom Tov and will be the main point of contact for all rabbinic questions and activities. I am also grateful to Rabbi Finn who has agreed to give us some more hours outside of Shabbat and is an amazing asset for the community. During 2019, Rabbi Finn will be regularly officiating at smachot across both sites, as well as taking on more weekday education and communal responsibilities. I would also like to thank Rabbi Plancey who will continue to provide amazing support to our rabbinic and lay leadership teams, as well as of course to our members. As the builders of our community, I am so happy we can continue to rely on the good advice and counsel of both Rabbi Plancey and Miriam which I personally value so greatly.

In addition to the above, I am thrilled we have been able to attract some top talent to work within our community over the next 12 months.

Rabbi Alan Garber, Rabbi of our neighbouring community Shenley United, will be joining us as part time Pastoral Rabbi, working with Rabbi Chapper and our Community Care team to support members in both good and challenging moments. Rabbi Garber is incredibly warm and empathetic and will be a wonderful addition to our rabbinic team. Rabbi Garber will also be joining BES on occasional Shabbatot throughout 2019 to help develop his relationships and understanding of our wonderful community.

Rebbetzen Eva Chapper is already an integral part of BES life and I am so happy she has agreed to join us as Interim Community Rebbetzen on a part-time basis. Eva will be primarily focussed on developing and delivering programmes to enhance the social and educational provision for women in the community. Eva, as always, brings her tremendous warmth and enthusiasm which I know will be a game-changer to this important area of our community development.

We have said many times that growing our minds is as important as growing our community, and I am exhilarated we have been able to attract three world class, international educators, who have a strong grounding in the UK and more specifically the United Synagogue, to take on the role of Community Scholars for 2019. Rabbi Dov and Freda Kaplan, recently of Hampstead Garden Suburb, who are both outstanding educators, will be joining us for 4 learning Shabbatot during the year and also for Shavuot. Similarly, Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, formerly of Radlett, will be joining us for 5 learning Shabbatot during the year, as well as for the Yamim Noraim, when together with Rabbis Chapper, Finn and Plancey, he will help inspire us during that crucial time of the year. We are also launching a new programme called I.T. Interactive Torah where BES Rabbis together with our community scholars and other leading educators will be giving remote shiurim or podcasts, aimed at specific demographics, which members can join and participate in from the comfort of their homes. It is a real coup for BES to be able to attract educators of such acclaim, and I am sure each of us will be able to tap into this opportunity in our own way.

Finally, you may have heard talk of ‘East Borehamwood’ and our plans together with the United Synagogue Communities of Potential team to develop an offering for Jews within the Elstree Way corridor. I am happy to report that the US are in the process of appointing the ideal rabbinic couple to help bring life to this crucial project. Rabbi Levi and Shternie Goldgrab will be moving into their new home in Horizon Place in the next few weeks and will be working part-time to establish roots and programmes within their local area. They will also be working within the community on Shabbat, and I look forward to them being at the heart of exciting new BES initiatives. The continued growth of BES is staggering and this is yet another sign of the great things to come in our area. For more information on our rabbinic team please click here.

As mentioned previously, we are also looking beyond 2019. As part of this future planning, we’re very keen for all BES members to have the opportunity to share their views as we make new appointments to our rabbinic team. If timelines change, these will of course be communicated as appropriate.

  • January 2nd 2019 – community online rabbinic survey launched
  • January 15th and 17th 2019 – community rabbinic consultation evenings
  • February 15th 2019 – Structure verified and appointment of appropriate selection groups
  • March 2019 – Job adverts go live
  • April 2019 – Applications deadline
  • June 30th 2019 – Appointments ratified and confirmed
  • January 2020 – New rabbinic structure and appointments start

I would like to conclude with an appeal. It is important you know that BES is lauded across the United Synagogue and in some cases internationally as being a community that can handle innovation, can manage and flourish on a multi-campus structure, and has high growth, engagement, passion and event attendance. As a community, we have a unique ability to achieve whatever we set our mind to and with tremendous energy and spectacular results. This environment presents a unique and incredibly attractive opportunity for any Rabbi or Rebbetzen, and I am sure we will be spoiled for choice in our recruitment. I need you all to do your part – tell your friends and family in other communities about all the incredible things we do in our amazing community. Let the collective pride we all share become our biggest asset in attracting top quality rabbinic talent to BES, and above all, let’s use this as an opportunity to help cement our position as the leading community in orthodox Anglo Jewry for years to come.

Wishing you all a happy new year and I hope 2019 will afford us all opportunities to share many exciting moments together.


Simon Mitchell