London synagogue considers pulling out of Orthodox body

By Simon Rocker, December 27, 2012

A north-west London synagogue is considering leaving the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations amid the controversy over a Golders Green rabbi accused of inappropriate behaviour with women.

Leaders of the North Hendon Adath Yisroel Synagogue in Hendon want to amend its constitution so that it can quit the Union if members wish.

An email sent to congregants on behalf of the wardens said that the action was being taken in order to register our protest against the Union’s “mismanagement and the resulting Chillul Hashem [religious scandal]”.

The Union has come under mounting criticism over its handling of the allegations of inappropriate conduct against Rabbi Chaim Halpern, the leader of the Divrei Chaim community in Golders Green, who resigned as a Union dayan last month.

The head of the Stamford Hill based-Union, Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, appeared to have acted decisively this week by authorising the expulsion of Divrei Chaim from the Union.

But a subsequent letter said to have been endorsed by Rabbi Padwa, which surfaced on a Charedi blog, suggested the earlier notice had been a “misunderstanding” and Divrei Chaim remained affiliated to the Union.

A Union official confirmed today that Divrei Chaim was "back in the Union".

The email to North Hendon Adath members said that in order to withdraw from the Union, an emergency general meeting must take place to change the constitution which currently requires the congregation to be “a member of the UOHC. Once the constitution has been amended the way is clear for us to act.”

In the meantime, the Union's rabbinic leadership has met to consider its position on Rabbi Halpern and congregants are waiting to see if a further statement will follow.

Last updated: 3:30pm, December 27 2012