Rabbi stages walk out during Rabbi Dweck address

Sephardi divisions laid bare by protest


Divisions in London’s Sephardi community were laid bare on Shabbat last week when the rabbi of a congregation walked out as Rabbi Joseph Dweck addressed it.

Rabbi Dov Levy, of Porat Yosef, an independent synagogue in Hendon founded by Moroccan Jews, had made clear his opposition to Rabbi Dweck, senior rabbi of the S&P Sephardi Community (SPSC), speaking there during the service.

The differences between the two men emerged last summer following a lecture on gay love given by Rabbi Dweck at another synagogue in the area which provoked widespread controversy across the Orthodox world.

Rabbi Levy expressed broader criticism of Rabbi Dweck’s teachings on Jewish law and use of rabbinical sources in a class at Porat Yosef — although the YouTube video of it was subsequently taken down.

Rabbi Dweck was invited to Porat Yosef for a celebration of the SPSC’s recent appointment of Dayan Avraham Dadoun, who had grown up in the synagogue, to the Sephardi Beth Din.

When Rabbi Dweck got up to speak during the service, Rabbi Levy left the sanctuary, returning a few minutes later when the address had finished.

Rabbi Levy, explaining his actions to the JC, said he believed Rabbi Dweck had done “nothing to suggest he has changed his approach from a year ago.

“Until he demonstrates that, he shouldn’t be given a platform”.

But Michel Dadoun, chairman of Porat Yosef’s trustees and an uncle of Dayan Dadoun, defended Rabbi Dweck’s appearance.

“Every time we have a visiting rabbi we honour him by asking him to say a few words,” he said.

Last year’s controversy over Rabbi Dweck was now a “closed matter,” he added.

As for Rabbi Levy’s gesture, Mr Dadoun said: “It is his personal view and he is entitled to that.”

Mr Dadoun said the appointment of “a local boy” as a new dayan was a “huge honour for our community. We are very proud”.

Whatever Porat Yosef did, he said, was “for peace and shalom and ahavat chinam [unconditional love] between communities.”

Rabbi Dweck declined to comment.

A panel of senior rabbis convened by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to review Rabbi Dweck’s lectures concluded a year ago that he was fit to remain in office, acknowledging his public admission that he had made mistakes.

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