North-West London rabbis issue statement against Halpern

The controversy over the Golders Green rabbi accused of inappropriate behaviour with women deepened yesterday as five rabbis released a statement against him.

Rabbi Chaim Halpern resigned two weeks ago as a dayan of the Union of the Orthodox Hebrew Congregations over complaints about his counselling sessions with women but remains as head of a congregation he runs in his home.

But the former head of the London Beth Din Dayan Chanoch Ehtrentreu and four other North-West London rabbis have declared that Rabbi Chaim Halpern should withdraw from all rabbinic functions.

The Stamford Hill-based Union announced this week that its head Rabbi Ephraim Padwa was convening a special Beth Din to investigate the complaints against Rabbi Halpern.

But in their statement, Dayan Ehrentreu and the other rabbis said: “We are confident of our conclusion that the Rov concerned is not fit and proper to act in any rabbinic capacity. This unequivocal decision was taken after painstaking and extensive investigations, including interviews with alleged victims.”

The four other rabbis who signed the statement are Dayan Menachem Gelley, the senior dayan of the London Beth Din; Dayan Yonason Abraham of the London Beth Din: Rabbi Shimon Winegarten of the Union-affiliated Bridge Lane Beth Hamedrash: and Rabbi Yissochor Knopfler, of a local Federation synagogue.

They said: “Whatever the motivation of the proposed Beth Din and whatever it may conclude, we are in no doubt as to the veracity of our own conclusion that the grave allegaions warrant the immediate withdrawal of the Rov from all rabbinic and counselling functions and warn the congregation about the risks involved in allowing the alleged perpetrator to resume his activities.”

They also stated that any person who believes they have been abused in any way should “take immediate steps to be debriefed by recognised professionals. The community in North-West London is establishing a body of frum professionals for this purpose. Anonymity and confidentiality are assured.”

They added that they “would like nothing better than to see total unity and the merging of all the shuls in north-west London into one united body for the benefit of our families, institutions and communal infrastructure”.

An associate of Rabbi Halpern has previously said that the rabbi has denied the allegations.

Last updated: 2:07pm, December 7 2012