Top rabbi asks community to help stem cash shortfall and plateauing membership
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Top rabbi asks community to help stem cash shortfall and plateauing membership

'I ask you to invest your time, your moral support, your person, your money, not much, everything because really this is important in our lives,' said Senior Rabbi Joseph Dweck.

Rabbi Joseph Dweck at the event in central London (Credit: MART Photography - Tammy Kazhdan)
Rabbi Joseph Dweck at the event in central London (Credit: MART Photography - Tammy Kazhdan)

Senior Rabbi Joseph Dweck has called on members of the Spanish and Portuguese Sephardi community to help him tackle a funding shortfall and “plateauing” membership.

Dweck issued a rallying cry at an event in central London, attended by congregants and board members.

The senior rabbi, who revealed annual membership fees cover just 30 percent of total costs, expressed concern about the S&P Sephardi Community’s “lean staff” and said Lauderdale Road Synagogue’s membership had “hit a plateau.”

“[Funding] can’t come out of thin air and it means we have to raise the funds, and it may mean that we have to look again at our entire system and if it’s only covering 30 percent of the costs we may have to look at changing that as well,” he told the audience.

Taking a question on the likelihood of synagogues closing, he said he believed “very strongly” it wouldn’t come to that. “If we don’t meet our budgets obviously we will have to make a decision about some element of cut. What that cut will be, we’re not 100 percent sure,” he said.

In his speech, Rabbi Dweck called on congregants to attend shul at least once a month and volunteer to help with Shabbat Kiddush, security, children’s services and lavadores, the ritual bathing of the dead.

“I am asking you to invest your time, your moral support, your person, your money, not much, everything because really this is important in our lives,” rabbi Dweck told the audience.

Describing “rapid” changes across society, he added: “There’s uncertainty. There’s doubt. There’s anxiety. […] It seeps into our beds, to our minds, to our tables, to our living rooms, to our hearts. It seeps into us. There’s no better strength against anxiety and doubt and uncertainty than unity, than belonging.”

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