Golders Green rabbi is "unfit to serve"

The Golders Green rabbi accused of inappropriate conduct with women should quit his congregational post, according to a senior religious figure.

Rabbi Chaim Halpern resigned last week as a dayan of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations following allegations about his counselling sessions for women, but indicated he would continue to lead the synagogue he runs in his home.

But the head of the Federation of Synagogues Beth Din, Dayan Yisroel Lichtenstein, said that Rabbi Halpern’s response had not gone far enough.

He has “crossed the red lines of accepted rabbinic behaviour,” Dayan Lichtenstein said.

“It is not sufficient for him only to have resigned his public posts. He must resign completely from the rabbinate as he is unfit to serve as a rabbi.”

Dayan Lichtenstein is the first rabbi to have made a public statement on the controversy, which has rocked London’s strictly Orthodox community.

Rabbi Halpern announced that he was leaving his positions with the Union and other strictly Orthodox bodies after a meeting at the home of former London Beth Din head Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, when he was questioned about the allegations by a group of six rabbis.

“A group of rabbis interviewed Rabbi Halpern and one of his accusers and accepted her version of events,” Dayan Lichtenstein said.

Dayan Lichtenstein was not one of the six but he was present at a larger meeting of local rabbis last weekend who were briefed on events.

An associate of Rabbi Halpern said last week that the rabbi strongly denied the allegations.

Last updated: 10:33am, November 30 2012