Rabbi Alex Chapper plans to develop Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue into a seven-day a week community with a broad range of activities following his appointment as senior minister at the Hertfordshire-based shul.
The task is huge at the largest US synagogue but the challenge is one Rabbi Chapper, who was unanimously recommended for the role by the Rabbinic Selection Committee and Synagogue Council, is ready to take on.
He takes up the post following the departure of Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz last November.
As the most senior member, Rabbi Chapper will have responsibility for leading the next stage of the community’s development alongside the lay leadership.
He joined the shul in April 2017 as Community Rabbi with responsibility for continuing the development of BES@Yavneh.
Since moving to Borehamwood, Rabbi Chapper and his wife Eva have impacted on community life, initiating several education programmes.
“We are privileged to have the opportunity to now lead BES,” he said.
“Part of my vision for the future of this already vibrant and dynamic community is for it to develop into a truly seven-day a week community with a broad range of educational, social and cultural activities.
“Conscious of our size and growth, we will strive to ensure that every member counts and is provided with multiple access points to communal involvement.”
He added, “I’m passionate about innovation that inspires people to greater religious commitment and deeper knowledge, and have ambitious plans to further develop our IT (interactive Torah) offering that utilises technology to deliver educational content as well as niche programming that’s tailor-made to different demographic groups.
“We will also be developing and enhancing the religious provision for women with a fully integrated women’s programme, as well as a youth and young people’s programme, calendar of Israel-related events and social action programme.”
“Rabbi Chapper has demonstrated his ability to blend world-class pastoral work with innovative programming and education since moving here two years ago,” said BES Chair, Simon Mitchell.
“The warmth of reaction to his appointment, from across the community, has been overwhelming. I look forward to working with Rabbi Chapper to implement many of his fantastic new ideas and to deliver a shared vision for the BES community.
“With Rabbi Chapper at the helm, and with our ambitious plans to recruit a full Rabbinic team to work alongside him, the future looks bright for BES.”
The community is to recruit a full-time Community Rabbi who will have responsibility for BES@Yavneh to work alongside Rabbi Chapper and Rabbi Yaakov Finn, a female educator, community scholars and rebbetzens.
By Howard Lawrence