War of words over Charedi rabbi case
conflict has deepened within London’s Charedim over a rabbi accused of inappropriate conduct with women.
Rabbi Chaim Halpern – who resigned as a dayan with the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (UOHC) last month over complaints about his counselling sessions for women, but remains with the synagogue he runs in his Golders Green home – wrote to congregants at the weekend to protest his innocence.
His letter follows a declaration issued a few days earlier by the former head of the London Beth Din, Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, and four other London rabbis, which called on Rabbi Halpern to withdraw from all rabbinic functions.
They stated: “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.”
But Rabbi Halpern declared: “I proclaim I am innocent of all allegations. Furthermore, all investigations carried [out] until this point have been carried out in an incorrect manner.”
The Stamford Hill-based UOHC announced last week that it was setting up a special Beth Din to look into the case. It will comprise rabbis selected by the head of the Eda Charedit in Jerusalem, UK-born Rabbi Tuvia Weiss.
Rabbi Halpern’s father, Rabbi Elchonon Halpern, the veteran president of the UOHC, has complained that the rabbinical declaration against his son was “constructed on weak foundations, exaggerations, lies and an absolute misunderstanding of his sacred work to rebuild broken homes and broken souls”.
Rabbi Pinchas Roberts, of the Hendon Adath Yisroel Synagogue, said that the community had become “embroiled in a tragedy that beggars belief”.