A prominent Strictly Orthodox rabbi has labelled a fellow minister “corrupt” and “dangerous” for speaking positively about gay love.
Rabbi Aaron Bassous, head of a Sephardi congregation in Golders Green, described Rabbi Joseph Dweck, senior rabbi of the S&P Sephardi Community, as “even more poisonous than Louis Jacobs” and recommended that the London Beth Din “remove his Orthodox hat”.
Rabbi Dweck had told the congregation at the Ner Yisrael synagogue in north-west London last month that the Torah has very little to say about homosexuality and that, while sexual intercourse between men was forbidden, there were other ways for men to love each other.
He said: “I genuinely believe that the entire revolution of feminism and even homosexuality in our society… is a fantastic development for humanity.”
But in a two-hour talk on Monday night, Rabbi Bassous said Rabbi Dweck’s speech was “false and misguided… corrupt from beginning to end”.
He challenged “any Rav in the whole world to come out publicly with a signed letter of support for the talk which Rabbi Dweck gave”.
The Golders Green-based rabbi also said that Dayan Yonasan Abraham, a senior figure in the London Beth Din, had tried to persuade him not to speak out against Rabbi Dweck.
The Dayan, said Rabbi Bassous, even asked Chacham Yaakov Hillel, a prominent Sephardi leader in Israel with UK links, to convince him not to publicly criticise Rabbi Dweck, together with other Dayanim of the different Batei Din.
“However, I have spoken to Chacham Yaakov Hillel, and he has given me his full blessing.”
Rabbi Bassous then went through Rabbi Dweck’s speech, citing rebuttals in the Torah.
He argued that Rabbi Dweck’s statement that male homosexuality had been happening throughout human history was false, saying it had “only been part of depraved societies – ancient Greeks and the ancient Romans. I don’t want to go into too much detail about what sort of depraved debauchery, removed from any sense of humanity”.
He described Rabbi Dweck as “dangerous.
“Throughout Jewish history, there have been those who deviate from the Torah… the reformers, Conservative, Liberal and their ilk,” he said.
“But they’re not dangerous, because we know where we stand, and we know where they stand.
“When is it dangerous? When you have someone who comes in front of you with two hats. He’s got the hat of an Orthodox and the hat of a reform. From the outside, he’s Orthodox, but his mouth spouts reform.
“Where have we had this before in Anglo Jewry? Louis Jacobs.
“Rabbi Dweck is another Louis Jacobs. It’s not only this talk. I’ve heard subsequent talks, and he’s even more poisonous than Louis Jacobs.
“This Rabbi [Dweck] pontificates pious words – ‘I believe the Torah is from heaven’ – in the next talk he says ‘I believe that every single word of the Torah is dictated by God’. And then what does he do? He rewrites the script, and gives his own interpretations.”
Rabbi Dweck said he preferred not to comment.
In response to Rabbi Dweck’s speech, the London Beth told the JC last week that the issue was “one that principally concerns the S&P community and its dayanim, who have indicated that they are dealing with the issue”.
“Does anyone buy that?” Rabbi Bassous said.
“I call upon the London Beth Din and Dayan Ehrentreu as a senior Rabbi of the United Synagogue to come out with an unequivocal, unambiguous statement of their views in this matter.
“Rabbi Dweck has been saying these theories not in the Spanish and Portuguese community. He’s saying them in the congregation in Hendon of Rabbi Kimche. He is invited to Dayan Ehrentreu’s synagogue. On Shavuot night he’s invited to the flagship synagogue of the United Synagogue in St John’s Wood to speak and say what he thinks about Kabbalat Hatorah. So we don’t buy that.
“And I want to go further in my statement, and say, that even if this matter is only to do with the S&P community, Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu and the London Beth Din have no compunction to say their views in public about a dayan from another Beth Din.
“Only four and a half short years ago, a dayan in north west London was publicly stripped of being a dayan and from any public office, in a Gilui Daat [public statement] signed by Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, Menachem Gelley and Yonason Abraham – even though they said in their Gilui Daat that that body [the organisation the disgraced Dayan had belonged to] had agreed to set up a special Beth Din to investigate the allegations against one of their own Rabbonim.
“That wasn’t enough for Dayan Ehrentreu and the London Beth Din. No. They didn’t say then, ‘this is a matter to do with that body, their Dayanim will deal with it’. Even though the Dayanim said they would deal with it and told them they were going to deal with it.
“It wasn’t enough for them. They stripped him and shamed him in public, until this very day. They had no compunction. So we, Anglo-Jewry, the rank and file of Anglo Jewry, request of the London Beth Din to say their views publicly in this matter, and if, in their view, Rabbi Joseph Dweck is not an Orthodox Rabbi, doesn’t spout Orthodox views, his hat, his Orthodox hat, should be removed from him”.