Maidenhead’s Rabbi Jonathan Romain steps down after 44 years

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Maidenhead’s Rabbi Jonathan Romain steps down after 44 years

'I've just been paid to do my hobby' says leading spiritual leader who takes up new post as head of the Reform movement's Beth Din in July

Rabbi Jonathan Romain, Pic: Twitter/X
Rabbi Jonathan Romain, Pic: Twitter/X

The long-standing rabbi at Maidenhead shul is stepping down after more than four decades in post. 

Appointed as head of the Reform movement’s Beth Din in November 2023, Rabbi Jonathan Romain MBE takes up his new post in July, replacing Rabbi Jackie Tabick, who retired after 11 years.

Speaking to Jewish News, Rabbi Romain said: “Maidenhead is not a Jewish area compared to north west London, but those who come here are surprised at how vibrant is the Jewish life locally, with a very large building and a membership of just over 950 households. Like most congregational rabbis, I’ve put in a lot of overtime, but I can honestly say I never feel that I’ve done any work – instead, I’ve just been paid to do my hobby”.

Social campaigner and self-confessed “long-suffering Reading FC fan”, Romain and his wife, Rabbi Sybil Sheridan are both past chairs of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis and Cantors.

In 2003, he was appointed MBE for his mixed-faith work and in 2014, set up Inter-faith leaders for Dignity in Dying (IFDiD), an inter-faith group of clergy calling for a change in the law to allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults the choice of dying on their own terms.

On 9th April, he posted on social media platform Twitter/X: “Had the first ever open meeting in Maidenhead on Sunday on assisted dying; good attendance and discussion, virtually everyone in favour. General view was: once it’s legalised, we’ll look back and ask “Why did it take so long?. What a shame so many had to die in pain beforehand”.

A prolific author, broadcaster and newspaper contributor, Rabbi Romain’s books include ‘A Guide to Reform Judaism Today’, ‘God, Doubt and Dawkins’ and ‘Confessions of a Rabbi’.

Maidenhead synagogue members Ben and Sarah Bar-Lev told Jewish News: “Rabbi Jonathan has been intrinsic to how Maidenhead Synagogue has grown over the last 40 years. Jonathan is truly a force of nature who empowers his community and brings Judaism to every point of Jewish life. He will be truly missed and no words can describe the legacy he will be leaving and mark he has made on thousands of lives. We are living examples of his impact”.

Rabbi Rene Pfertzel will take over the role of rabbi at Maidenhead in the autumn.

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