Rabbis call for boycott of centre after it holds ‘forbidden and condemned’ LGBT event
Seven prominent Rabbis have denounced a community centre for holding LGBT events, calling them an “abomination”.
The Orthodox leaders published an open letter on Friday calling for a boycott of £50 million community centre JW3 because it had hosted LGBT-friendly activities.
Earlier this year, an unknown offender graffitied the word “SHAME” over a banner promoting its programme of LGBT events, known as GAYW3, at the centre on London’s Finchley Road.
In the letter, the rabbis wrote that this “abomination” of a programme “promotes a way of life which is in total contradiction to Orthodox Judaism and Halacha (Orthodox Jewish law),” as reported by the Jewish Chronicle.
They continued by stating that “a red line has been crossed in launching campaigns and initiatives that promote lifestyles and behaviours forbidden and condemned by the Torah.
“Accordingly, it is our opinion that members of our communities should distance themselves fully from JW3, its activities and services, and avoid visiting this Centre.”
The rabbis then ironically ended the message by stating that their community “has always stood and stands on high moral ground and this is what has always kept us going throughout the times.”
The letter was signed by Rabbi Aaron Bassous, Rabbi Yisroel Greenberg, Rabbi Shimon Winegarten and Rabbi Mordechai Fhima, all of whom lead London congregations.
The names of the other three rabbis cannot be extrapolated from their signatures.
When contacted by PinkNews, Rabbi Fhima gave no comment.
His synagogue, Anshei Shalom congregation in St John’s Wood, says on its site that it is “proud of each member and their contribution to our diverse community of all ages and backgrounds.”
Rabbi Winegarten’s synagogue, Bridge Lane Beth Hamedrash, boasts on its site that it “has created a warm and welcoming atmosphere”.
It adds: “Bridge Lane welcomes young and old alike, catering for the needs of a growing and diverse community.”
Rabbi Bassous, whose name was also on the letter, has already made the news this year for his hateful comments about acceptance of the LGBT community.
Last month, Rabbi Joseph Dweck, the head of the Sephardi Jewish movement – one of two main branches of Judaism in the UK – said homosexuality becoming more accepted was “a fantastic development for humanity.”
Rabbi Bassous called these comments “dangerous” and “poisonous” as well as “twisted, misguided and mistaken”.
So perhaps the presence of his signature on the letter isn’t too surprising.
Keshet UK, a Jewish LGBT group, told PinkNews: Through their programming, JW3 has created unique spaces celebrating LGBT+ Jewish lives.
“KeshetUK wants to see more spaces like this, in which help to create a world where no-one has to choose between their Jewish and LGBT+ identities.
“Attacks on individuals or organisations that support LGBT+ inclusion only alienate LGBT+ Jews and allies, many of whom already feel marginalised.
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“Chief Rabbi Mirvis has clearly stated there should be no place for homophobia in Jewish communities. There must be no place for cultural boycotts either.”
Danny Rich, the chief executive of Liberal Judaism, said the rabbis’ letter encouraged violence against LGBT Jews.
“You don’t know whether to be ashamed, embarrassed or angry that seven teachers of Torah encourage prejudice and bigotry against the Jewish LGBTQI community and its allies.
“Notwithstanding the particular attack on a vulnerable section of the community, this action fails to understand that contemporary Jewish culture is wider than a certain medieval interpretation of it.
“I know the Leviticus passages and using them in this way seems a clear incitement to intolerance and violence.”