A leading Charedi rabbi condemned Chaim Halpern as a “gangster” who should be “thrown out” by the Jewish community in the wake of sex abuse allegations made against him.
The prominent north London rabbi stands accused of grooming and assaulting a young woman who visited him for counselling.
Speaking in November of last year in Jerusalem, Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch - one of the world’s most eminent strictly Orthodox rabbis - was asked what message he had for religious leaders in England about Halpern.
In a recording heard by the JC, Sternbuch said: “They shouldn't be afraid. They should say clearly and openly that all groups of people have gangsters.
“By us also there's a gangster, they should throw him out and finish. The best is emes [truth]. But they won't do that.
Asked what Halpern’s “status” is, Sternbuch added: “Throw him out! A Baal Taaveh [one driven by their desires] - he can't hold himself. Probably it's got a name in English, this taaveh.”
The rabbi was then asked: “They have to throw Chaim Halpern out of the Rabbonus?”
Sternbuch replied: “Avadeh [certainly]! A gangster!”
Halpern, the head of the strictly Orthodox Divrei Chaim Synagogue, is currently the subject of a rabbinical investigation following reports of sexual abuse.
In November of last year, a 21-year-old woman told Israel’s Channel 12 television station that he touched her inappropriately during a spiritual guidance session.
Speaking to the JC, the woman said he spent time grooming her and her family before the assault.
She claimed: “The truth is overdue. Reb Chaim thinks that because he’s a rabbi, he can do whatever he wishes. He tricked me into trusting him by acting charming, giving attention and compliments. He invests time into phone calls and emails, but it’s all just grooming.”
The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, which oversees his community, said it was opening “a full and impartial investigation”.
Sternbuch, 97, who grew up in London, serves as head of the The Charedi Council of Jerusalem of Jerusalem and is a widely respected Jewish authority.
Despite the allegations levelled against him, Halpern led Purim celebrations surrounded by members of his community including children.
Photographs and footage of the event obtained by the JC show Halpern addressing the congregation and dancing with guests at the Beis Shmuel synagogue in Golders Green, run by his brother Moshe, who is also a rabbi.
Rabbi Halpern denies all allegations. Asked about Rabbi Sternbuch's comments, his lawyer, David Sonn, said: “No comment.”