Rabbi David Mason leaves Muswell Hill shul for new refugees and racial justice role

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Rabbi David Mason leaves Muswell Hill shul for new refugees and racial justice role

The popular United Synagogue rabbi is appointed exec director of merger between humanitarian organisations HIAS (originally the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), and JCORE, (Jewish Council for Racial Equality)

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Rabbi David Mason
Rabbi David Mason

Rabbi David Mason has announced his departure from Muswell Hill Synagogue ahead of being confirmed executive director of an organisation committed to leading a Jewish response to issues around refugees and social justice.

The charismatic leader had written to members of the north London shul last week to announce he was stepping down after 14 years adding he was “thrilled to have been given a new challenge and new direction in my career.”

While he could not reveal his new role at the time as writing to members, it has now been confirmed that Mason will lead the newly merged collaboration between the human rights organisation HIAS (originally the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), and JCORE, (Jewish Council for Racial Equality).

After his new role was confirmed Mason said he had always worked closely with Dr Edie Friedman, JCORE’s founder and added:”I have a passion for a Jewish narrative that values and prioritises welcome and humane treatment of others, including those who seek refuge and asylum in the UK.

“I am excited to develop our relationship with HIAS, to expand and deepen our work. I look forward to growing the impact of an organisation with a vital and proud place in Anglo-Jewry and the wider world.”

He will continue to be Muswell Hill rabbi for the next six months, before starting the new job.

Mason had been a United Synagogue rabbi for 19 years, where he had also previously served at Kingston shul, and had been consulted by the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and other senior religious figures at times for advice over environmental issues.

His work around sustainability with the EcoSynagogue was widely acclaimed both within the Jewish world and outside.

In his letter to Muswell Hill members he wrote of how the shul held “a critical place in the US leading on projects that show compassion and a desire to help those in need, and model an orthodoxy that is open and compassionate.”

Shul chair Daniel Shaw also praised Mason’s service to the community saying his work went beyond that of “a typical United Synagogue rabbi.”

Mason told Jewish News that he had often looked to the community for “guidance” and he stressed his commitment to ensuring that women and members of the LGBT+ community felt valued when they stepped into a modern orthodox shul like Muswell Hill.

The outgoing founder and executive director of JCORE Dr Edie Friedman confirmed she would be continuing as honorary president “to support the new leadership team in developing this partnership.”

Adam Rose, chairperson at JCORE added:“I am delighted that Rabbi Mason is joining the HIAS+JCORE team as its new executive director.

“David has a long-standing commitment to refugees and anti-racism, and it is great to know that all the excellent work that Dr Edie Friedman has done for these causes over the years will be continued by someone with his experience and insight.

“He has a big act to follow, and I am confident that the organisation will grow under his leadership.”

HIAS president and chief executive  Mark Hetfield said:“We are excited to welcome Rabbi David Mason to his new role as Executive Director of HIAS+JCORE in the UK, as we continue our work to join our two organisations with long histories of supporting forcibly displaced people.

“We are confident that working alongside Rabbi Mason’s experience and local leadership will significantly strengthen the Jewish response to racial equality and to the global refugee crisis.”

Born in Edinburgh, Mason had studied at George Watsons College and received a BSc and MSc in Econometrics from the London School of Economics and attended yeshivot in Israel for 7 years before joining the Rabbinate.

He is also trained in conflict resolution.

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