Chief Rabbi ‘barred’ from Talmud event at Wembley Arena

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Chief Rabbi ‘barred’ from Talmud event at Wembley Arena

'How sad that the petty politics of a small minority should distract from what should be a wonderful celebration of Torah,' a spokesperson for Rabbi Mirvis said

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis did not attend an event on Tuesday at Wembley Arena after he was apparently barred.

Rabbi Mirvis was reportedly “disinvited” from attending the Siyum HaShas event in north London hosted by the group Agudath Yisroel of the United Kingdom from Stamford Hill, as first reported by the Charedi blogger running the Twitter account @Ifyoutickleus.

A spokesperson for Rabbi Mirvis told Jewish News on Tuesday: “How sad that the petty politics of a small minority should distract from what should be a wonderful celebration of Torah.”

Jewish News understands the chief rabbi was invited weeks ago to sit on the podium alongside other dignitaries – but the invitation was withdrawn on Monday amid concerns about possible disruption from audience members.

Rabbi Mirvis divided public opinion among some in the Orthodox community in 2018 when he released an historic guide advising schools on steps to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) pupils.

The document, produced with the Jewish LGBT group KeshetUK, included tips to protect students from bullying and abuse and urged tolerance towards young Jews discovering their sexual and gender identity.

Rachel Fink, headteacher at JFS, hailed the guide at the time as “an important publication which every Jewish school should embrace.”

But critic Rabbi Mordechai Rose hit out at the chief rabbi for his partnership with KeshetUK, writing that while the group is “in their own eyes … committed to a worth cause,” the Orthodox view is “fundamentally different from theirs.”

“This collaboration of the Chief Rabbi with KeshetUK might be compared to the scenario of the United Synagogue collaborating with the Reform movement to produce a definitive guide to Jewish religious belief,” he wrote in piece published online.

Online users cited the guide as a possible factor in the chief rabbi’s apparent exclusion from the event.

Twitter account @see_through613 tweeted on Tuesday: “All too norm. One can’t please everybody… Certainly his presence would taint the whole event. Let him perhaps ask KeshetUK to organise an event for him.”

Another user, @green_sruli, wrote on Tuesday: “There is Halacha, @chiefrabbi decided to disregard it” in an apparent reference to the collective body of Jewish religious laws.

Thousands in communities around the world marked the end of the Daf Yomi, a seven-and-a-half year cycle spent reading every page of the Talmud.

A delegation of United Synagogue rabbis travelled to New Jersey last week to join the event at the MetLife Stadium on 1 January.

Agudath Yisroel of the United Kingdom was approached for comment.

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