Sephardi rabbi says Chief Rabbi has 'sold' United Synagogue to Reform

Rabbi Aharon Bassous promises protests against next month's lectures series by Rabbi Joseph Dweck


A Charedi rabbi from Golders Green has launched an astonishing attack on Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, accusing him of “selling” the United Synagogue to the Reform.

Rabbi Aharon Bassous – who led the campaign this summer against Rabbi Joseph Dweck, senior rabbi of the S & P Sephardi Community – lashed out at the Chief Rabbi for not condemning LGBT activities at the JW3 Centre in London.

In an address last week to his Sephardi community, Beth Hamedrash Knesset Yisrael – which is affiliated to the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations – Rabbi Bassous also threatened protests against a forthcoming lecture series by Rabbi Dweck at the London School of Jewish Studies.

Rabbi Bassous sprung into the headlines earlier this year when he denounced Rabbi Dweck for a lecture on gay love given at a Hendon synagogue.

More recently, he was one of 25 right-wing Orthodox rabbis who issued a notice warning their congregants to stay away from JW3.

Accusing the centre of encouraging “homosexual activities” in his talk, which  has been circulated on Youtube, Rabbi Bassous criticised the “silence” of the Chief Rabbi and the London Beth Din.

When an unknown protester had written the word “Shame” across a poster outside JW3 advertising its “GayW3” series of events in spring, the Chief Rabbi had responded by criticising homophobia and vandalism, Rabbi Bassous complained. The protester was “not a vandal,” Rabbi Bassous said.

The Chief Rabbi had lent “passive support” to JW3, he said, while the SPSC’s Sephardi Kashrut Authority had lent “active support” to the centre by licensing its kosher restaurant.

Quoting from the book Judaism and Homosexuality: an Authentic Orthodox View, Rabbi Bassous said: “To lend active or passive support to institutions that officially condone or encourage homosexual activities is tantamount to a denial or defiance of the word of God”.

He also hit out at United Synagogue president Michael Goldstein, who was chairman of JW3 at the time of the GayW3 week, as “president of the Reform”.

Rabbi Bassous took issue with the decision of a panel, set up to investigate Rabbi Dweck after complaints about his teachings and headed by the Chief Rabbi, to permit the SPSC senior rabbi remain in his position.

“I say this to the Chief Rabbi,” Rabbi Bassous declared, “You have sold the United Synagogue to the Reform, you have sold the Spanish and Portuguese [former name of the SPSC] to the Reform. You can’t sell North-West London Jewry to Reform.”

The new programme of the London School of Jewish Studies advertises a lecture series by Rabbi Dweck on the Rambam (Maimonides) beginning next month.

Rabbi Mirvis is president of LSJS, while Rabbi Dweck is vice-president.

“There will be protests, there will be pamphlets distributed,” Rabbi Bassous stated.  “We are not just going to sit down and allow the Chief Rabbi to bring in whoever he wants to speak in our area, in our kehillah kedoshah [holy community].”

The Office of the Chief Rabbi, the United Synagogue, the SPSC and LSJS were contacted by the JC for comment.



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