Questions linger, not least over ‘gay love’

The outcome of this complex case is itself a complex compromise

July 20, 2017 14:22

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has acted with admirable speed in trying to resolve the crisis that exploded around Joseph Dweck, the Senior Rabbi of the S & P Sephardi Community (SPSC).

His diplomacy has helped the Sephardi leader keep his job.

For had the ferocious attacks on Rabbi Dweck from various parts of the Orthodox rabbinate continued, the SPSC faced the decision of whether or not to keep its talented and charismatic head— and thus risk a split with the wider Sephardi community.

And that might have had consequences, for example, for the recognition of its kashrut or conversions.

Clearly, Rabbi Dweck has had to eat humble pie, but how big a slice will remain open to debate.

Removing himself from a seat on his own Beth Din may not be such a climbdown.

He had not qualified as a dayan, so handing over to more of a halachic specialist may be prudent in the circumstances. Otherwise the credentials of his Beth Din may have been called into question.

Rabbi Dweck, one person told me, has “taken one for the team”. But it remains to be seen whether he still retains the authority to appoint who sits on the Beth Din and can exert influence over its religious policy.

His agreement to have the content of his lectures vetted in advance, however, will surprise some who believed he would never accept such conditions. Some of his supporters will worry he has effectively been muzzled and will shy away in future from contentious issues.

Even though many in the community will now only be too ready to draw a line under the affair, some questions linger.

Rabbi Dweck agrees with the Chief Rabbi’s rabbinic panel — set up to review his teachings — that he made mistakes.

But since the panel has published no detail, the general public are little the wiser what these were. More to the point, they have no way of knowing what are considered the limits of acceptable views within Orthodoxy.

And the bold lecture on homosexuality which sparked off the whole dispute?

The Orthodox establishment has studiously avoided venturing its opinion.

July 20, 2017 14:22

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