The S&P Sephardi Community has appointed as head of its Beth Din a rabbi who has called on his congregants to boycott JW3 because of its LGBT activities.
Dayan Abraham David, who has been a member of the Sephardi Beth Din for 25 years, will take over the role from Israel-based Dayan Yaron Navon, who has been its titular head for the past three years.
The SPSC has also announced a new recruit to the Beth Din, Dayan Avraham Yaakov Dadoun, a former student of the Hasmonean High School in London, who studied at Gateshead before moving to Jerusalem.
Dayan David said: “We look forward to bringing together the new generation of great Sephardi Torah scholars and leaders we have in this country to the forefront, to enhance and secure the future of Torah and our traditions in halachah, psak [rabbinic decision] and kashrut.”
Rabbi Joseph Dweck, the SPSC’s senior rabbi, welcomed the appointments and looked forward to working with the dayanim.
“The new structure of the Beth Din will mean that its work will be become even stronger and more effective and it will be able to serve the greater Sephardi community more efficiently in its work with gittin [divorces], conversions, and arbitrations on Torah law, among other things,” Rabbi Dweck said.
Dayan David, born in Rangoon, Burma, to a family originally from Iraq, came to the UK as a teenager and spent six years at yeshivah in Gateshead.
In Israel, he learned at the Brisk Yeshivah, noted for the rigorous Lithuanian style of Talmud study, before returning to the UK after his marriage to study for a further eight years in Gateshead.
He subsequently held a position at the Sephardi Porat Yosef Yeshivah in Israel, where he was close to the Sephardi Chief Rabbis Ovadia Yosef and then Mordechai Eliyahu.
Moving to Argentina, he set up the first kollel for training Torah scholars in Buenos Aires and led the Syrian community of Shuba Israel.
He then came back to London to head the Od Yosef Hai yeshivah and community in Hendon.
Although Dayan David last year joined other rabbis in criticising JW3, he explained he did so in his personal capacity as rabbi of Od Yosef Hai - which is not affiliated to the SPSC - and not as a member of the Sephardi Beth Din.
The Sephardi Kashrut Authority licenses the restaurant at JW3.
He was a member of the rabbinic panel set up by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis last summer to review Rabbi Dweck’s teachings after an outcry from strictly Orthodox rabbis prompted by a lecture given by Rabbi Dweck on gay love.
Rabbi Dweck issued an apology for remarks he had made in some of his lectures and the panel concluded he should keep his job. But Rabbi Dweck stepped down from his role on the Beth Din.
Rabbi Dadoun began his rabbinic career at the Kollel Darchei Horaah Lerabbanim in Jerusalem established by Rabbi Eliyahu. He received semichah from Israel’s Chief Rabbinate in 2014 and qualified as a dayan in 2017.
Lecturing in both English and Hebrew, Dayan Dadoun founded a kollel to groom new dayanim and with his wife Efrat launched the charity Merkaz Libi, which helps teenage girls at risk of dropping out.
Dayan Navon, who travelled from Israel to attend sessions of the Beth Din, will be offering ad hoc support to it over the next six months.