Rabbi Chaim Halpern conducting a wedding a ‘serious error’, says United Synagogue

The United Synagogue has strongly criticised the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations for allowing Rabbi Chaim Halpern, who is under police investigation over alleged sexual abuse of women, to officiate at a wedding.

Rabbi Halpern, the leader of the Divrei Chaim community, took part in a ceremony under the UOHC’s auspices on Wednesday afternoon at Finchley United Synagogue, which houses the Kinloss banqueting suite.

In a statement, a spokesman for the US said that it considered the UOHC’s approval of Rabbi Halpern’s participation as “wrong and a serious error of judgment”.

Rabbi Halpern, who has denied any wrongdoing in connection with counselling sessions for women, has been bailed to return to a police station in July.

A special Beth Din set up by the UOHC to look into the allegations against him has been suspended pending police inquiries.

No one was available from the UOHC to comment.

The US said that its synagogues were hired out for dozens of weddings each year under the Union’s auspices.

“The United Synagogue is not involved in the authorisation or solemnisation of such marriages and relies on the UOHC to ensure that a suitable person officiates,” a US spokesman said.

“The former head of the London Beth Din and two current dayanim in their capacity as north-west London rabbonim have already publicly made their views very clear concerning Rabbi Halpern.

“Rabbi Halpern’s own governing body, the UOHC, has seen fit to initiate a high-profile investigation that has not yet been concluded. In addition to which, he is under police investigation.

“We therefore consider his authorisation by the UOHC to officiate at this marriage wrong and a serious error of judgment.”

Last updated: 7:45am, May 24 2013