Ex head of Sephardi shul calls for S&P emergency meeting, and its board of trustees to quit

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Ex head of Sephardi shul calls for S&P emergency meeting, and its board of trustees to quit

Gerry Temple, formerly of Lauderdale Road, said the movement 'has no idea how to lead the S&P into the 21st century' following tense 'town hall' style meeting

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Lauderdale Road Synagogue
Lauderdale Road Synagogue

The former chairman of Lauderdale Road Synagogue, Gerry Temple, is calling for an EGM before the April AGM of the S&P community, and for its entire board of trustees to resign.

His action is as a result of an online “town hall” meeting held by the S&P  Sephardi Community on Monday evening, at which question after question from among the 100 participants was side-stepped by the Board with deflective responses.

Mr Temple, whose background is in management consultancy, complained that the online meeting had no agenda and no direction. He told Jewish News: “The meeting was opened by the Parnas Presidente and vice-president [saying that] it was providing an opportunity for transparency and to enable dialogue. Those objectives were not met”.

On Tuesday morning, Mr Temple told the Parnas Presidente, Stuart Morganstein: “I do believe that the Board does have the right intentions but has no idea how to lead the S&P into the 21st century. The condescending attitude that I witnessed from some Board members last night was the last straw, and the frequency of ‘can’t tell you yet but will in due course’ is insufficient and unacceptable when addressing 100 key stakeholders in a public meeting”.

He said he had received “a significant number of emails and texts” from yehidim, or members of the S&P congregation, “expressing frustration and disappointment with the performance of our Board”.

Accordingly, he said, an EGM needed to be called and he was currently engaged in gathering the minimum 40 signatures required to trigger this.

Among the issues which did not receive answers from the Board on Monday was why the report of Rachel Fink, the former JFS head teacher who was commissioned to make a formal inquiry into the future of the S&P community, was not made available to members. Strong rumours insist that Mrs Fink is to become chief executive of the S&P, though there has been no formal confirmation.

One S&P member asked about the recommendation by Mrs Fink that an Office of the Senior Rabbi (Rabbi Joseph Dweck) should be created, and — referring to a line in last week’s Jewish News report that it was to be funded to the tune of £100,000 per annum over a five year period — asked whether his “finta” — membership fees — would be paying for this. Mr Morganstein said that this would not be the case, but did not clarify how the OSR would be paid for, or what its intended functions would be.

Mr Temple told Jewish News: “We established nothing last night. We do not need a chief executive, we need an office manager. The meeting was hopeless, and the Board members were simply telling us, go and play nicely with your toys in the sandpit”.

He added: “In my previous position as chair of Lauderdale Road Synagogue, I had proposed a possible and clear strategy for the future structure and governance of the S&P to the President and to Mrs Fink. This has been completely ignored in the Fink Report and was never mentioned by the Board last night. I’m sure that other yehidim will have various strategies in mind —and these need to be explored and developed with transparency, and not behind closed doors as at present.

“I made it clear that I have no confidence that the future of the S&P is safe in the hands of the current Board”.

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