Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag
Photo: Conference of European Rabbis
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt . 'Obligation to uphold Torah values'
Photo: Conference of European Rabbis

Amsterdam rabbi sacked over gay stance

Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag suspended by Orthodox Ashkenazi community after signing document opposing homosexual marriage. 'It is unheard of for a chief rabbi to express a halachic opinion or a Torah viewpoint and be suspended,' he says in response

Holland's Orthodox Ashkenazi community is in a state of uproar after Chief Rabbi of Amsterdam Aryeh Ralbag has been sacked by the for signing a document opposing gay marriage, stating that "homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle" and suggesting that it could be "cured".


Rabbi Ralbag signed the online rabbinical statement several months ago – along with 180 other rabbis, educators and psychotherapists – following an American Orthodox rabbi's decision to officiate a wedding between two men.


Orthodox rabbis and professionals condemned the act in a harsh letter, including Amsterdam's chief rabbi, who is an American citizen and lives in New York most of the time.


Dutch journalists discovered that the senior rabbi had signed the document in recent days, and following the "exposure", Amsterdam's Orthodox Jewish community chairman Ronnie Eisenmann announced that Ralbag would be relieved of his duties.


Eisenmann apologized to any person that might have been offended by the letter, stressing that "homosexuals are welcomed (in the community) and all Jewish couples are accepted as full members so long as they are recognized as 'couples' under Dutch law".


Rabbi Ralbag slammed the decision in interviews to the Jewish press, saying: "It is unheard of for a chief rabbi to express a halachic opinion or a Torah viewpoint and be suspended."


Community divided

The decision sparked a controversy within Amsterdam's Jewish community. Members supporting Rabbi Ralbag announced that they would form a new community "in the spirit of Torah and Jewish Law."


The Committee for the Declaration on the Torah Approach to Homosexuality in the US told the Volkskrant paper in that it was 'shocking' that a chief rabbi has been suspended for his statements on "centuries-old religious truths', adding that the suspension "verges on fascism."


The Conference of European Rabbis (CER) and said it was in talks with the Amsterdam community and would be sending a representative to Holland “in an effort to work through the issue.”


The CER president, Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt of Moscow, said: ”In recent weeks we have seen two disappointing extremes at different ends of the Jewish spectrum.


"In Israel, an insular and self absorbed community showed no respect for anyone falling outside of their bubble, and in Amsterdam, a community that is too concerned with what their secular peers believe, has penalized their chief rabbi for re-stating the Torah’s opposition to same sex unions.


"As contemporary Traditional Jews we have an obligation to uphold Torah values whilst living as responsible citizens."



פרסום ראשון: 01.25.12, 07:40
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