Orthodox Jewish community in an uproar after Rabbi’s comments on homosexuality.
A rabbi’s supportive word on the subject of homosexuality has created rifts in the Orthodox Jewish community forcing Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of UK, to intervene. While the acceptance of gay rights is something that is given more importance to in Reform Jewish communities, the Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews are still against accepting gay marriages.

At the heart of the chaos is Joseph Dweck, a senior rabbi at the Beth Din, a religious court belonging to the Sephardic Jews. In a lecture, he delivered at a synagogue in Hendon, Dweck said that although homosexuality was denounced as sinful in the Torah, changing times required a reformation of attitudes towards the gay community. “The entire revolution of feminism and even homosexuality in our society … is a fantastic development for humanity,” he said, emphasizing the beauty of these reforms despite the Torah’s opposition to such values.

He continued that the reformation seen in society today has made the world an easier place for his children and grandchildren to love another human being, irrespective of his/her sex, “to show affection to someone else, to hug and kiss someone else, to genuinely express love without worry of being seen as deviant and problematic.”

Not surprisingly, a number of high-ranking Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders condemned him, denouncing his views. Rabbi Aaron Bassous called his speech “false and misguided … corrupt from beginning to end,” calling the rabbi “dangerous” and “poisonous” to the Jewish community. “When is it dangerous? When you have someone who comes in front of you with two hats. He’s got the hat of an Orthodox [rabbi] and the hat of a Reform [rabbi]. From the outside, he’s Orthodox, but his mouth spouts reform,” not hiding his distaste for the Reform Jews’ beliefs.

The speech has caused a lot of Dweck’s other teachings to be re-examined. As a result, some leaders are of the opinion that the rabbi has abandoned Orthodox Judaism and embraced Liberal Judaism. Bassous even proposed revoking his position as rabbi.

Rabbi Mirvis appealed to the Jewish community: “approach this issue with all due sensitivity and dignity, and to exercise responsible leadership in the best interests of the Jewish community,” adding that he was deeply disturbed by the conflict.

Dweck, who argued his teachings have been misunderstood, has stepped down from his position at Beth Din, at least until as long as the issue rages on and a resolution is met.

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