We don’t want LGBT+ students in our schools, leading Charedi rabbi tells Chief Rabbi

London-born Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch hits out after Chief Rabbi said schools must be 'a safe haven for all children'


A prominent Israeli Charedi rabbi has attacked Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis for his guidance on LGBT+ relationships and also criticised the reaction from other strictly Orthodox rabbis as not strong enough.

Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, the nonagenarian head of the Beth Din of the Eda Charedit in Jerusalem - which lies to the right of Israel’s official Chief Rabbinate - said British Jewry was in danger because LGBT+ people might become “legitimate members of our communities”.

Rabbi Mirvis’s guidance to schools on their duty of care towards LGBT+ pupils, published shortly before Rosh Hashanah, was considered the first of its type in the Orthodox world.

In response, a number of strictly Orthodox rabbis from London, Manchester and Gateshead issued a statement agreeing that children should not be bullied in school because of their “inclinations”.

However, without openly criticising Rabbi Mirvis, they said they wanted to clear any “misconception” by emphasising that same-sex relationships were forbidden.

But their statement did not go far enough for Rabbi Sternbuch, who was born in London.

In an open letter to Orthodox rabbis in the UK, he protested that it “does not contain an objection either to the Chief Rabbi’s statements that these students must remain within our educational institutions, or to his surprising directive that these people must be drawn close and treated lovingly like any other Jew.”

Rabbi Sternbuch said he had the “deepest respect” for the UK Charedi rabbis who had issued the statement but added; “When there is a desecration of the Divine Name, we do not accord honour to a rov, and it is suprising that they did not raise a protest in their letter against the actual idea of maintaining within our educational institutions students who conduct themselves in an abominable manner contravening Torah law and the foundations of our religion, not to mention the idea of honouring and protecting them.”

Although the British government was demanding these children be treated with respect, “we cannot have regard to non-Jewish laws that contravene our holy religion.”

If rabbis were to write an unequivocal letter to the government to say that such requirements were “damaging to the future of our children” and “if … we would be willing to go to prison rather than abandoning our sons and daughters, this would certainly have a tremendous effect,” he said.

Rabbi Sternbuch considered “the material and spiritual future of British Jewry to be in danger because in such a situation these people will become legitimate members of our communities, and enjoy our support and protection knowing that they need not fear that their behaviour will be exposed.”

The letter appeared in Rabbi Sternburch’s weekly pamphlet in Hebrew which has been circulated in the UK and is being treated as authentic by Charedi sources contacted by the JC.

An English translation of his open letter has also emerged, although it is not yet known who produced it.

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