Rabbi of UK’s biggest United Synagogue community quits ‘with immediate effect’

Rabbi of UK’s biggest United Synagogue community quits ‘with immediate effect’

Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz and his wife Bianca have stepped down from Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue after five years

Rabbi Kanterovitz
Rabbi Kanterovitz

The senior rabbi of the United Synagogue’s largest congregation and his wife have left their roles with immediate effect.

Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz and his wife, Bianca, informed the leadership of Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue (BES) that “they wish to leave their roles as Senior Rabbi and Rebbetzen”.

In a letter sent to the synagogue’s 4,000 members, Simon Mitchell, chair of BES, stated: “They and the United Synagogue have mutually agreed they will leave their role immediately, although they will continue to live in the BES Rabbi’s house for the next few months.

“In a little over five years at BES, the Rabbi and Bianca have been a core part of the sustained growth in our community.

“On behalf of the community I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their work and achievements for BES.”

The letter also included a statement from Rabbi Kanterovitz, stating they had “really enjoyed our time leading the BES community” over the last five years.

He added: “We would like to thank the honorary officers and the whole community for their support over this period and know we leave the community in a stronger position than we found it.

“The time is right for us to move on but BES has a bright future and we will be following it closely and with fond memories.”

Synagogue officials are now working to “ensure interim arrangements are put in place quickly”.

One congregant said she was “shocked and saddened” by the news.

“Rabbi and Bianca Kanterovitz were so warm and have done much to boost our community over the years. They will be sorely missed.”

Steven Wilson, Chief Executive of the United Synagogue, said: “In their time as Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue’s Senior Rabbinic couple, the community has seen a remarkable growth in the shul and its activities.

“We wish Rabbi and Bianca Kanterovitz well for the future.” 

Their departure comes a month after Rabbi Kanterovitz took an unexplained “period of leave”.

Kanterovitz came to BES from Manchester, ending a two-year period when the shul found itself without a senior rabbi, following the departure of Rabbi Naftali Brawer, and his wife Dina, who this year became the UK’s first Orthodox female rabbi.

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