Aryeh Ralbag, the chief rabbi of Amsterdam’s Orthodox Ashkenazi Jewish community, has been suspended from his position today after he signed a document alleging homosexuality could be “modified and healed”.
Ralbag is reported to have signed the Torah Declaration, a document written by 25 Jews who claim to have overcome same-sex attraction and now campaign that “change is possible”, the Jerusalem Post reports.
The Orthodox rabbi, who is based in America but has been head of the Dutch city’s Jewish community for six years, reportedly put his name to the “Declaration On The Torah Approach To Homosexuality”.
The document claims: “The media is rife with negative labels implying that one is “hateful” or “homophobic” if they do not accept the homosexual lifestyle as legitimate.
“This political coercion has silenced many into acquiescence. Unfortunately this attitude has seeped into the Torah community and many have become confused or have accepted the media’s portrayal of this issue.”
It says the idea that God created “a human being who is unable to find happiness in a loving relationship unless he violates a biblical prohibition is neither plausible nor acceptable”.
It continues: “We must create an atmosphere where this teenager (or anyone) can speak freely to a parent, rabbi, or mentor and be treated with love and compassion. Authority figures can then guide same-sex strugglers towards a path of healing and overcoming their inclinations.
“The key point to remember is that these individuals are primarily innocent victims of childhood emotional wounds. They deserve our full love, support and encouragement in their striving towards healing”
In a statement, the Nederlands-Israelietische HoofdSynagogue board said: “Rabbi Ralbag’s signature may give the impression the Orthodox Jewish community of Amsterdam shares his view.
“This is absolutely untrue. Homosexuals are welcome at the Amsterdam Jewish community.”
Ronnie Eisenmann, chairperson, said the community “regrets that the chief rabbi cosigned this document and distances itself from this view”, offering “heartfelt apologies to anyone who may have been hurt by the rabbi’s signature”.
The rabbi’s signature joins 179 others from rabbis and medical health professionals on the declaration.