John Galliano is 'man of dignity' says rabbi who invited him to shul


John Galliano will speak at the launch of a West End of London Jewish learning programme sponsored by the Chief Rabbinate.

The fashion designer was invited to next month’s event by Central Synagogue's rabbi, Barry Marcus, who has helped him repair relations with the Jewish community after he was sacked by Christian Dior four years ago for an antisemitic rant in a Paris bar.

Mr Galliano will talk at the inaugural session of Connect, an educational partnership between three Orthodox synagogues – Central, Western Marble Arch and New West End.

Rabbi Marcus – who invited Mr Galliano to attend a Shabbat service at Central Synagogue two years ago – described him as “a man of dignity; a creative man who made a mistake and regrets it.

“Who are we to judge someone who reaches out to us and who wants to learn? We need to listen.

“There are plenty of high-profile people who have said antisemitic things who have not asked for forgiveness.”

Event organiser Caryl Harris said: “We have certainly got a lot of interest in the event and no one has called to complain about Galliano speaking.

“According to Rabbi Marcus, Galliano has been very contrite about it all. I do believe we should give him a second chance.”

Central Synagogue Chazan Steven Leas said: “We wanted to bring Jewish learning back into the West End, and felt that we wanted to hold interesting events with controversial and in-your-face speakers. We want to ask questions people are too scared to ask.”

The event in central London, which will also be attended by designer Ronit Zilkha, will be on the theme of fashion and will include talks on clothes in the Bible.

Rachel Shababo, director of the Centre for Rabbinic Excellence, said: "We are delighted to be supporting Connect, which has raised the bar in thinking creatively and finding new ways to inspire its Jewish communities. This is the first of three such events which we hope will create the foundations for a permanent learning centre and which could provide a model of engagement for other communities."

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