A Cheder at Brondesbury Park

A Cheder at Brondesbury Park

By Rebekah Henriques

An Orthodox rabbi has cautiously welcomed Liberal Judaism’s initiative to scrap Sunday cheders and move lessons to a Saturday, when parents attend shul.

Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz of Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue said he “wouldn’t rule out” a similar move, adding that it “would not violate in any way the spirit of Shabbat”.

Liberal synagogues such LJS in St. John’s Wood, Northwood & Pinner, Finchley, Kingston and Brighton are already holding lessons on Shabbat morning. Southgate Progressive is soon to follow suit.

“It’s not such a bad idea if Shabbat is the day you are able to attract children to shul and if it’s compatible with the spirit of Shabbat,” said Kanterovitz. “I wouldn’t rule it out.”

Speaking ahead of her shul’s adoption of Saturday cheders, Southgate’s Rabbi Yuval Keren said there were “distinct advantages” to the new arrangement.

“It will be a golden opportunity to benefit from Shabbat spirituality and allow parents and children to celebrate Shabbat together,” he said. “It’s a trade-off between our wish to follow the rabbinic letter of the law, and our need to provide children and their parents with the opportunity to be together on Shabbat.”

However, Kanterovitz cautioned that Shabbat should be “air-tight,” saying: “The traditional aspects of Shabbat need to be maintained at all costs, at all times. Shabbat is what keeps us together as a people. We can’t compromise on that.”