Dignity and sense

June 6, 2013

Only one figure emerges with credit from this week's unedifying intra-community row over gay marriage: Vivian Wineman, the President of the Board of Deputies.

The Board's interfaith adviser, Rabbi Natan Levy, had every right to sign a letter to the Daily Telegraph opposing gay marriage - although one wonders what went through his mind when deciding that it would be a good idea to co-sign a document with Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad. But it was imperative that Mr Wineman then dissociated the Board from the letter - and not simply because of the co-signatories.

The Board does not - and must never - take sides in doctrinal disputes within the different strands of Judaism. The whole point of an umbrella body is that it includes different views. And whatever some might like, there are different views of gay marriage within Judaism. So it was both ignorant and crass for the head of the Federation Beth Din, Dayan Yisroel Lichtenstein, to attack Mr Wineman for having "brought shame to the Jewish community".

Far from bringing shame, Mr Wineman has behaved with dignity and sense.

Last updated: 5:45pm, June 6 2013