Angry parents at Yavneh College have demanded an apology from the chairman of Radlett Synagogue, after he complained that badly-behaved children from the Jewish school caused £850 of damage to the shul.
The parents’ Facebook site was deluged with comments aimed at Radlett chair Alex Pomerance, who was reported to have told congregants that the actions of the four girls involved reflected badly on the school, their families and the teenagers themselves.
Pomerance has previously written to several schools about the behaviour of their pupils in shul, including Yavneh, JCoSS, JFS and Immanuel. This week he said he did identify the girls as Yavneh pupils but denied that he embarrassed anyone, or said that the girls’ behaviour was a poor reflection on the school.
He also hit out at the reporting of the incident, which he said had “destroyed months and years of consideration, hard work and planning” and which would “encourage members to turn away from Judaism instead of embracing it”.
Pomerance has previously reported disruptive behaviour from Yavneh boys “who chatter and laugh throughout the service, move around the shul, climb over chairs and do not respond to requests for silence or respect”.
Noting that he had again written to Yavneh headteacher Spencer Lewis, Pomerance added: “I doubt if these kids would behave this way in a church or a mosque. Why do they think they can do it in synagogue?”
Lewis defended his pupils, saying: “Our pupils are a credit to Yavneh College and the flood of letters, phone calls, emails and social media posts that we have had, particularly in the last week, are testament to that. I am extremely proud of the way they behave both in lessons and outside of school.”
Parents and supporters also hit back, with one writing: “I was in shul that day and I know the real story… At the end of the service the rabbi still complemented the Yavneh kids on their good behaviour.”
Another said Yavneh pupils were being singled out, adding: “My husband is a regular shul goer and this is his shul. He says there are plenty of very badly behaved children from the fee paying sector also.”
Meanwhile one more said that outside Yavneh, the children were not the college’s responsibility, asking: “What has this got to do with the school?”
Another parent agreed, saying: “This happened at a Shabbat service and I doubt very much if the children in question had school uniforms on so it doesn’t really have anything to do with Yavneh.”
Stephen Grossman, vice-chair at Radlett, appeared to distance himself from Pomerance, noting the state of the toilets and saying: “This was an accident waiting to happen… There was no intention by the girls to break the dividers between the cubicles.”