At the 59th Annual General Meeting of Westminster Synagogue held on 25 May 2017, Rabbi Benji Stanley was unanimously elected as Minister of the Congregation in succession to Rabbi Dr Thomas Salamon, who has served the community with great distinction since 1997.
Rabbi Stanley will take up his post towards the end of 2017. After a period of sabbatical it is expected that Rabbi Salamon will become Minister Emeritus.
Rabbi Stanley joins Westminster Synagogue from Reform Judaism where for the last three years he has been Rabbi for Young Adults. In this role he has had extensive engagement with young adults across the Jewish community and established himself as a teacher and leader with a noted presence at learning initiatives such as Limmud and the Open Talmud Project. He also brings to his new role the experience of having worked in a number of progressive synagogues in the United Kingdom.
Rabbi Benji Stanley said: “It was within the Westminster community that, having worked in its Cheder for a year under the guidance of Rabbi Thomas and Renee Salamon and Rabbi Rebecca Birk, I decided to become a rabbi. So the opportunity now to be at the heart of the synagogue’s life as its Minister feels like a welcome homecoming and fills me with anticipation for what we can achieve together. I am very much looking forward to joining a dynamic team and vibrant congregation.
“It has been a joy to work intensively at Reform Judaism for the last three years, developing a vital and thriving area of work with young adults. Although I will no longer be working for Reform Judaism, I look forward, as Rabbi of Westminster Synagogue, to continued friendship, learning and work with my teachers, colleagues and friends at Reform Judaism”.
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism said: “I’d like to congratulate Westminster Synagogue on their excellent new rabbi! Over the last three years, Rabbi Benji has transformed our work with young adults providing outstanding leadership and laying a solid foundation to take this work forward. This is a wonderful career opportunity for Benji and we wish him mazal tov and good luck for the future”.
Jeffrey Ohrenstein, Chairman of Westminster Synagogue said: “I am delighted that, after a full selection process, Rabbi Benji will be joining our community. He will do so with the support and encouragement of all its members. We believe that his experience with young adults, combined with an ability to relate to people of all ages, will enable him to build on the foundations that Rabbi Thomas has so successfully laid over the last twenty years and continue to grow our synagogue as a centre of spirituality, learning and communal friendships”.