Controversy has continued to rage over the views of the senior rabbi of the S&P Sephardi Community, Rabbi Joseph Dweck, on gay love.
A letter condemning him, which purports to come from the Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, has surfaced on social media although it did not refer to Rabbi Dweck by name.
Dated last week, it was written in response to a number of American rabbis seeking to enlist the Chief Rabbi’s support in the campaign against Rabbi Dweck.
Rabbi Yosef, the son of the late Rav Ovadia Yosef, who was regarded as the most influential Sephardi rabbi of his day, is the uncle of Rabbi Dweck’s wife, Margalit.
Meanwhile, supporters and opponents of Rabbi Dweck have kept the argument in the public eye by launching online petitions.
Supporters of the rabbi said they joined “in solidarity” with him.
“We may not all agree with everything Rabbi Dweck expressed - but we know him to be a teacher of Torah with deep integrity, knowledge of Jewish tradition and love for Klal Israel [the Jewish people],” they wrote.
But his opponents claimed Rabbi Dweck’s views were “against the guidance of our great rabbis around the world”.
The attack on Rabbi Dweck has been led in London by Rabbi Aaron Bassous, head of a Sephardi community in Golders Green, which is affiliated to the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations and not the SPSC.
While Rabbi Dweck has stood by his views, which were delivered in a lecture at the independent Orthodox Ner Israel Synagogue in Hendon last month, he moved to dampen the controversy last Friday by issuing a clarification.
Although making it clear that sexual contact between men remains forbidden, he stated his belief that a change in social attitudes has produced benefits in helping society to “be more open to the expression of love between men”.