Rabbi Dweck row reaches Bnai Brak as S&P call for calm

Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo called on other rabbis to end the “meaningless inquisition” against the under-fire Rabbi Dweck


Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has been urged to speak out in defence of Rabbi Joseph Dweck, the senior rabbi of the S&P Sephardi Community (SPSC) who has been under fire after a controversial lecture on gay love last month.

Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo, head of an independent Orthodox institute in Jerusalem and a regular speaker at the UK Limmud conference, called on Rabbi Mirvis and the London Beth Din to “unequivocally condemn” the attacks on Rabbi Dweck and “stand staunchly” behind him.

He also called on other rabbis to end the “meaningless inquisition” against Rabbi Dweck and for his lectures, removed from the internet, to be restored online.

In a blog published by the Times of Israel, Rabbi Lopes Cardozo said the dispute was “an indication of where British or perhaps all European Orthodoxy is heading”.

When Orthodox rabbis, he said, were “told that they are no longer able to speak their minds, offer new insights into Orthodox Judaism, or try to find solutions to serious problems by using innovative ideas, we are faced with a rabbinical world that is wearing blinders, is comprised of yes-people looking over their shoulders, and is generating a hazardous small-mindedness that has far-reaching effects”.

His response follows denunciation of Rabbi Dweck from yet another strictly Orthodox source earlier this week – adding to the previous condemnation of Israel’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef and the Gateshead Rav, Rabbi Shraga Feivel Zimmerman.

The Beth Din of the strictly Orthodox town of Bnai Brak said it was impossible for him to serve as a spiritual leader and described him as a “danger” to his audience.

Critics of Rabbi Dweck insist that rabbinic concerns go deeper than his original lecture on homosexuality and revolve around his methods to justify leniencies in observance as well as his approach to Torah interpretation.

The Chief Rabbi last week appealed for Rabbi Dweck to be given the opportunity to address any issues away from “the glare of publicity”.

But so far there has been no indication of any agreement on a process to resolve the controversy.

The JC understands that one plan was for Rabbi Dweck to explain his views to a panel of dayanim convened by Rabbi Yisroel Lichtenstein, head of the Federation Beth Din, who would subsequently make recommendations if they felt it necessary. It would not constitute a formal hearing in Jewish law.

The Chief Rabbi is yet to say whether he has agreed to any of the dayanim of his own rabbinical court, the London Beth Din, taking part in such a procedure.

In the meantime, the board of the SPSC has called for an end to attacks on its senior rabbi.

In a statement issued today, it said: “Rabbi Dweck enjoys the overwhelming support of the Kahal [SPSC community] and the entire board. 

“We are appalled by the personal nature of the attacks on Rabbi Dweck and ask for them to stop immediately.

“Rabbi Dweck is an inspirational leader not only for us but also the wider community and we are proud to be working side by side with him to resolve this issue.”

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