The leadership teams at Redbridge and Ilford United Synagogues have proposed a merger to create a new 2,000-strong membership in Essex, which could be approved as early as December.
Members of Redbridge United Synagogue – itself formed through the merger of Clayhall and Newbury Park synagogues in 2015 – would move over to Ilford United Synagogue’s Beehive Lane building, described as “1960s Cathedral style”. This would be refurbished, and the combined shul would be given a new name.
The move has long been mooted, given the area’s declining Jewish population. A report published in December 2013 by the Institute of Jewish Policy Research suggested 5,000 Jews left Redbridge between 2001 and 2011.
If the merger is approved following consultation, some Ilford members would see their subscription fees cut, since the top rate at Redbridge is lower than that at Ilford, and the shuls’ two chairs are proposing to match the lower rate.
Redbridge’s Reverend Gary Newman would continue in his role as community welfare minister, while the new community would recruit a senior rabbi/rabbinic couple.
Ilford Synagogue, which was founded 82 years ago, is currently the largest shul in Essex and serves a varied membership ranging from strictly orthodox to less observant members,” but attendance has been declining markedly. In a sign of the times, the local Sainsbury’s last year removed its kosher food section.
Mike Callaghan and Ilford’s Malcolm Nathan said: “We have developed a community plan which we think is viable, financially sound and provides significant benefit for both communities.”
The first consultation meeting with both communities will be held on 30 October, with a Special General Meeting a month later, on 30 November. If majorities from both shul vote in favour, the United Synagogue Council would ratify it on 17 December.
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