Manchester community votes to end contracts of its rabbi and chazan
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Manchester community votes to end contracts of its rabbi and chazan

200 members voted to end the services of Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag and chazan Joseph Muller this week, amid speculation he may take legal action to challenge the decision

Google Maps screenshot of Whitefield Synagogue
Google Maps screenshot of Whitefield Synagogue

The rabbi and chazan of a large Jewish community in Manchester have had their contracts of employment terminated after 200 members voted to kick them out.

Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag and chazan Joseph Muller saw their time at Whitefield Hebrew Congregation come to an end at a Special General Meeting on Thursday night after years of upset and infighting at the shul.

The synagogue’s by-laws mean that religious employees cannot simply be removed by the executive but must also be voted out by members. A similar vote was held against Guttentag in 2012, which he survived.

The executive said the combined salaries of Guttentag and Muller were taking up too much of the shul’s budget, but in a letter sent to congregants earlier this week, Guttentag said there was enough money to pay him.

In the synagogue’s most recently-published annual financial review, it notes that voluntary income “decreased during 2017/18 to £88,252 from £164,950 in 2017,” but that expenses also decreased.

Calling the executive’s reasoning “unfair,” Guttentag urged members not to sack him, saying he had “stood by” them for 30 years. He and Muller had the support of the shul’s choir and the community kollel.

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