Anti-gay Dutch rabbi: 'I now fear for my life'

Rabbi Ralbag: suspended

Rabbi Ralbag: suspended

The Chief Rabbi of Amsterdam's Orthodox Ashkenazi community, suspended by his community last week after signing a declaration against homosexuality, says he fears for his safety in Holland.

New York-based Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag, who had been due to visit the community this week, told a Dutch newspaper that he had strong evidence to suggest that it would be better not to go to the Netherlands for the time being.

When pressed further he said, "Why would I risk the life of my wife and me?"

Rabbi Ralbag was temporarily relieved of his duties after he joined nearly 200 Orthodox rabbis and educators in signing the online Torah Declaration on the Torah Approach to Homosexuality, which says that gay people should try to overcome their sexual inclinations.

The Conference of European Rabbis, which was this week trying to mediate a solution to the dispute, told the community's president, Ronnie Eisenmann: "The action of summarily suspending a rabbi from his duties for expressing halachah is a practice we wholeheartedly oppose, one which is unacceptable for an Orthodox Jewish community".

The CER also wrote to two Dutch rabbis who had been asked by the community to stand in for Rabbi Ralbag during his suspension, urging them to reject the request. "Your acceptance of this position could appear as a non-collegial act and could potentially adversely affect the position of Rav Ralbag himself," the CER stated.

But the controversy has also led to an apparent breakaway from the community by a group of more religiously right-wing members.

The formation of a new congregation called Machzikei Touro [Torah] Amsterdam was announced on Sunday. According to a press release, it will be led by Rabbi Pinchas Padwa, nephew of the head of the Charedi Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations in London, Rabbi Ephraim Padwa.

 

    Last updated: 1:00pm, January 26 2012