Rabbi Joseph Dweck cancels summer school appearance over gay love controversy

He referred to 'some issues that must first be dealt with'


Rabbi Joseph Dweck has announced that he will not serve as scholar in residence for a major Sephardi community this summer, referring to “some issues that must first be dealt with”.

The Syrian Jewish community in Deal, New Jersey, where Rabbi Dweck originates from, is one of the largest and most affluent Sephardi communities in the world.

In a Facebook post the rabbi wrote that since moving to London, “the summers that my family and I have spent with the community in Deal have been a joy and a highlight of our year. The opportunity to see friends and family and to share Torah is a great privilege.

“Unfortunately, my recent lecture caused some issues that must first be dealt with. I therefore, will not serve as scholar in residence for the SCA this summer”.

Rabbi Dweck also thanked “all those who have expressed support, care and love over the recent weeks in so many beautiful ways”.

The rabbi of the S&P Sephardi Congregation in London has been at the centre of a controversy over a lecture he gave on homosexuality, in which he said that while the Torah forbade sexual intercourse between two men, there were ways in which two men could love each other.

He also said that he genuinely believed “that the entire revolution of feminism and even homosexuality in our society… is a fantastic development for humanity.”

Rabbi Dweck has been publicly condemned by Sephardi rabbis in America and Israel. A letter in the name of Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel and Rabbi Dweck’s uncle by marriage was released last week. Although it did not mention Rabbi Dweck by name, it was addressed to “the Rabbis of the Kehilot [congregations] of New York and New Jersey”, who had written to Rabbi Yosef about his nephew-in-law.

The letter condemned what it described as “empty and heretical words”, and said that “one must distance oneself from all these distorted opinions and attitudes”.

Rabbi Dweck has received support from within his S&P community and from further afield. His announcement regarding not acting as scholar in residence in Deal this summer did not make it clear whether this had been his own decision or whether he had been told not to come. But it was met with scores of supportive comments on social media. Thousands have also signed petitions in support, calling Rabbi Dweck “a teacher of Torah with deep integrity and knowledge of Jewish tradition”.   

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