Seven orthodox rabbis have told members of their communities to boycott the JW3 Jewish cultural centre in London over its holding of events for LGBT Jews.
An open letter was published on Friday signed by Rabbi Aaron Bassous of Beit Hamedrash Knesset Yechezkel in Golders Green, Rabbi Yisroel Greenberg of Munks shul, also in Golders Green, Rabbi Shimon Winegarten of the Bridge Lane Beth Hamedrash in Temple Fortune, and Rabbi Mordechai Fhima of the Anshei Shalom congregation in St John’s Wood. The other three signatories have not yet been conclusively identified.
They say that “it has been brought to our attention by many members of our communities that the content of the ‘Toievah’… programme of activities at the Jewish Community Centre (JW3)… in our view promotes a way of life which is in total contradiction to orthodox Judaism and Halacha [Jewish law]…
“We are of the strong opinion that a red line has been crossed in launching campaigns and initiatives that promote lifestyles and behaviours forbidden and condemned by the Torah”.
For the avoidance of doubt, the mention of “Toievah” – “abomination” – in the letter then includes a reference to “Vayikra [Leviticus] Chapter 20, verse 13”.
The verse itself, which was not included in the letter, says: “If a man lies with a man as he lies with a woman, they have both committed an abomination. They shall be put to death, their blood-guilt is upon them”.
The rabbis go on to say that “it is of our opinion that JW3 has never promoted the upkeep of Halacha, the observance of Torah and Mitzvot and religious commitment, and as far as we are aware, it does not provide any conference or seminars on religious education and Torah learning”.
JW3 describes itself on its website as a venue which seeks to “bring all Jews together, wherever (or whether) they place themselves on the religious spectrum”. A kosher restaurant, with supervision provided by the Sephardi Kashrut Authority, is located on the premises.
As part of its stated “core principles”, the centre aims to “promote the best of Jewish values and to create better understanding between different strands of the Jewish community, and between Jews and different faiths, communities and cultures”.
In early March, the cultural centre held a “GayW3” festival to mark 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Britain. At the time, a poster outside the centre advertising the event was defaced, with the word “shame” daubed on it.
It is unclear why the letter from the Rabbis calling for congregants not to attend the centre has been published now, four months after the festival in question. JW3 has been contacted for comment.