'Dr Gore' banned from Lubavitch Purim celebration

Britain’s Got Talent star denied shul entry on Purim, but admits: it must be the way I look

By Robyn Rosen, March 4, 2010
Hairy biker: Roger Tann missed the megillah reading and spent Purim at home.

Hairy biker: Roger Tann missed the megillah reading and spent Purim at home.

A wheelchair-bound rabbi's son who is a self proclaimed "biker and punk rocker", said he was "crushed" after he was turned away from a megillah reading at Lubavitch House in Stamford Hill on Saturday night.

Roger Tann, 33, who goes by the name of Dr Gore, contacted Lubavitch on Friday to ask if they had a ramp for him to use, but after arriving 10 minutes late, he was informed by an unknown man that there was no ramp for him to use and that the megillah was almost finished.

Mr Tann, the son of the late Rabbi Leonard Tann, the former chief minister of Birmingham's Orthodox community, believes that he was shunned because of his "alternative" appearance consisting of biker leathers, piercings and tattoos.

He said: "It's the only shul near to me that I knew had a ramp to use. When I called, I didn't mention that I'm a biker and wear a leather jacket. We do look a bit odd to the outside world.

"When I was told I couldn't go in, I was crushed. It was obvious he said it because of the way I was dressed, because he had a look of disgust. I went home and spent my Purim locked in my house."

Mr Tann, who describes himself as an "observant Orthodox Jew", is a former horror magician and freak performer whose alter ego, Dr Gore, performed an act which included eating glass, piercing illusions and organ removal tricks.

His act made the semi-final of Britain's Got Talent in 2007 but was ruled by Ofcom to be too violent for a family programme.

Two years later, he developed a neurological disorder and can now only move with the help of a zimmer frame or wheelchair.

"We all have an obligation to hear the megillah on Purim and I'm trying my best to be as observant as possible, so to be turned away because I look a bit freaky is more than judgmental.

"My main objective is to get the community at large to recognise the fact that they are pushing so many people away from the faith and they should adjust their attitudes."

Bentzi Sudak, chief executive of Chabad Lubavitch UK, said: "I feel shocked and saddened that out of all the places for him to be treated this way, it was a Lubavitch institution.

"After looking into it we have found out it was someone from the outside who treated him that way.

"Nevertheless, it's still upsetting and we are working to turn this into something positive by maintaining contact with him and finding some way of keeping him in the loop.

"Hopefully now this story will raise awareness."

Last updated: 2:06pm, March 11 2011