Delegates representing the constituent shuls of the Union of
Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (UOHC) gathered at a new venue
last Sunday for the twice-yearly Council meeting.
The meeting at the Jewish Day Centre in Stamford Hill was
chaired by UOHC President Rabbi Dovid Frand, who presented a
report on kehilla activities over the last half-year.
He reported on negotiations between the Social Affairs
Committee and Jewish Care regarding arrangements for
increased use of the Centre for UOHC activities, beginning
with the Kollel Ba'alei Battim due to open in the near
future, as well as Kedassia supervision of the kitchen
The meeting heard reports on two important UOHC-sponsored
community projects. The first was a report on the regulation
and accreditation of sofrim and dealers in sifrei
Torah, tefillin and mezuzas. Rabbi Aryeh Weisz,
rov of Vishnitz Beis Hamedrash who has been granted special
responsibilities in this area by the UOHC Vaad Horabonim,
reported on the well-attended fortnightly shiurim for
sofrim on hilchos stam and the positive effect
this has already had. However, he expressed concern at the
situation in the UK with regard to unqualified or
inexperienced sofrim, and of importers selling
inferior and questionable sifrei Torah, tefillin and
mezuzas, a problem that has been greatly reduced in
the Orthodox centers in Eretz Yisroel and the USA in
recent years. HaRav Weisz called on kehilla askonim to
assist the rabbonim in setting up similar systems of
accreditation to those in Eretz Yisroel. This call was
supported by Rabbi D. Frand, who promised kehilla support in
The second presentation was made by Rabbi Boruch Leib
Rabinowitz, rov of Biala Beis Hamedrash and an active member
of the Chinuchline panel. Rabbi Rabinowitz described the
important issues that Chinuchline addresses and reported on
some of the issues regularly dealt with in calls from
parents, teachers, young people and even children.
Fortunately, Rabbi Rabinowitz reported, in many cases great
improvements result from these anonymous telephone
discussions, which in fact often lead on to meetings with
those involved in a dedicated effort to resolve problems. He
appealed for community help in sponsorship of private tuition
for children experiencing difficulties in their education, as
well as for provision of work opportunities for members of
the community within a safe environment.
Rabbi Frand reported on the UOHC's active involvement in the
establishment of the Calculu Business Advice Service
providing basic training for members of the community in
basic business skills.
Increased kehilla activities have resulted in a number of new
appointments. Mr. Ahron Mordechai Grunwald has been appointed
UOHC secretary, with Mr. Avrohom Klein now devoting his
efforts to fundraising to cover the growing budget of Beis
Brucha Mother & Baby Home which has a substantial annual
deficit, despite an increase in UOHC subsidies. Mr. Yisroel
Yaakov Frankel has been appointed deputy administrator of
The UOHC continues to be active in lobbying against
unsuitable advertising displays in frum neighborhoods. One
leading advertising company has submitted its material to the
UOHC for approval before display.
A renovation program at Beis Brucha together with the
expansion of a number of facilities has been successfully
completed and Mr. M. Surkis was appointed Treasurer of the
enlarged Home. A new Kehilla Services subcommittee is being
formed to steer the development of new kehilla projects
currently in the pipeline.
Rabbi Frand also reported on important recent meetings with
Northwest London UOHC delegates, in an effort to strengthen
kehilla unity and involvement in the NW London community.
Further meetings are planned for the near future and
activities at the kehilla office in Golders Green continue to
increase. Rabbi Frand referred to ongoing involvement in
plans for community housing in North and Northwest London, as
well as interest in plans for a new Orthodox community in
Mr. M. Hochauser, Chairman of Kedassia, presented the annual
financial statement and commented on its implications,
particularly the support granted to community projects. Mr.
Hochauser also commented on difficulties experienced in
shechita, often due to the practices of over-zealous
animal health inspectors etc. and resulting in considerable
financial loss. He reported the appointment of Dr. Jeremy
Meyer as Kedassia Food Technologist, working with the UOHC
rabbonim and mashgichim to provide technical support
and research in connection with food processing so as
to facilitate the highest standards of kashrus.
UOHC Vice President Mr. J. H. Lobenstein reported on the
activities of the External Affairs Committee, particularly
referring to negotiations with the Home Office on immigration
issues affecting yeshiva and seminary students studying in
England. The UOHC Education Committee is holding a meeting
with representatives of the local institutions involved to
discuss new government legislation and its implications. Mr.
Lobenstein also reported on the activities of Shechita UK,
the representative body of British Jewry on issues related to
shechita and also discussed the effect a recent
anti- shechita film by American animal rights
campaigners may have on the forthcoming government report on
shechita. The Committee is also involved in combating
a growing anti-shechita campaign in Ireland.
The vice-president also referred to a recent UOHC meeting
with the Minister of Education to discuss issues of concern
regarding government interference in orthodox Jewish schools
and particularly the legal requirement that religious state-
aided schools unable to fill school places with members of
their own faith should accept members of other faiths. The
Minister was sympathetic and suggested setting-up a liaison
committee to resolve issues of concern to the orthodox Jewish
Mr. Refoel Bergman, Chair of the Internal Affairs Committee,
reported the considerable success of the membership campaign,
which is strongly supported by mara de'asra HaRav
Efrayim Padwa. He also referred to strong UOHC representation
on a Working Party regarding regulations related to coroners
and to burials, demonstrating government recognition of the
significance of the Orthodox community.
The meeting concluded with praise for the dedicated efforts
of NW London askonim in the ongoing search for a
suitable hall for communal simchas and functions, in
which some progress has already been made.