Row escalates between Golders Green rabbi Aharon Bassous and shul trustees

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Row escalates between Golders Green rabbi Aharon Bassous and shul trustees

After Beth Hamedrash Knesset Yehezkel was left in 'precarious position' by the pandemic, its rabbi reportedly resigned and trustees claim he refused 'to engage in mediation offers'

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Rabbi Aharon Bassous
Rabbi Aharon Bassous

A bitter row has broken out in Golders Green between the trustees of the
Beth Hamedrash Knesset Yehezkel synagogue, and its controversial Rabbi,
Aharon Bassous.

Correspondence between the trustees and the rabbi has taken an increasingly angry tone. In mid-December, the trustees wrote to the congregation’s members to say they were exploring the possibility of selling its new building, which opened only this year, because of the state of the congregation’s finances. 

Coronavirus, the trustees wrote, had left the synagogue, which is a charity, and affiliated to the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, “in a very precarious position”. It had expected to clear its considerable debts by hiring out its function hall, but coronavirus had put paid
to that.

In the meantime, Bassous had reportedly said he was resigning. But this week, a letter from the trustees to Bassous, was leaked on social media. In it, they claimed he “had chosen not to engage in any of the several mediation offers proposed by different members of the community”.

According to the letter, Bassous had “explicitly stated you were resigning on three occasions”, but had tried to claim the resignations were not valid. The trustees have decided to regard him as working out his notice, with his employment ending on 11 February 2021. Bassous has been informed that if he does not agree with the trustees’ actions, he could take up the matter with a Beth Din. 

The letter also alaimed  that services had at one point been “conducted apparently in breach of Covid guidelines and against our instructions as trustees”.

Trustees also alleged there had been “vandalism to the building with theft to internet and CCTV equipment which has paralysed some of the systems – including security. We have yet to investigate the matter fully and we reserve all our rights”.

The trustees declined to elaborate on the letter and Bassous could not be reached for comment, but it is understood that he previously denied giving a binding notice of resignation.

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