A support group for same-sex Jewish parents which meets at JW3 has expressed its shock at calls from Orthodox rabbis to boycott the centre over its celebration of gay lifestyles.
Imahot v’Avot, which was established six years ago, holds events once a month at JW3. One member, Daniel Epstein, a doctor from north-west London, said the group had encountered no opposition from the community. “In fact, what we have experienced has been really positive from all sections,” he said.
Dr Epstein has been attending Imahot v’Avot sessions with his partner and their son for the past five years.
He said the rabbis calling on their congregants to shun JW3 “represented a tiny section of our community”.
Dr Epstein said Imahot v’Avot’s Chanukah celebration, held last Sunday, was the group’s best attended event to date. “We had over 30 people there — it was great. If they were trying to put people off it doesn’t seem to have worked.”
He said the group was “great for children from same-sex families because they get to meet children from families who are like them. And for the parents, I guess, it is like a support group, but mostly we just talk about parenting like anyone else.”
He added: “It is not nice that some people complained about it but they are so insignificant.It is funny because our group has been going for years and we have members from across the religious spectrum.”
Dr Epstein praised JW3 for providing a venue for the group. “They have been fantastic and welcoming. They have said that not for one second would these calls stop them from hosting us.
“We are just really glad that our group is continuing to grow.”
Imahot v’Avot — “mummies and daddies” in Hebrew — was founded by Natalie Grazin because, she said, “we wanted our children to feel completely welcomed and wanted within the Jewish community.
She added: “It means a great deal that we meet in the heart of the Jewish community and that our activities are part of the programming of a mainstream Jewish organisation.”
Raymond Simonson, JW3’s chief executive, said the rabbis who signed the letter “represent just a very small, specific bit of the Jewish community”.