EXCLUSIVE: Bnei Akiva UK withdraws ‘mazeltov’ to engaged lesbian couple
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here
News

EXCLUSIVE: Bnei Akiva UK withdraws ‘mazeltov’ to engaged lesbian couple

Announcement celebrating upcoming wedding of new employee Anoushka Goldman and member Gila Pearlman deleted from organisation's weekly newsletter.

An LGBTQ+ rights row has erupted at one of the UK’s leading Jewish youth organisations after an engaged lesbian couple’s mazeltov announcement was clumsily deleted from its weekly newsletter.

An original version of the newsletter sent to members of Bnei Akiva UK wished incoming staff member Anoushka Goldman and Bnei Akiva member Gila Pearlman “mazeltov” on their upcoming nuptials.

The initial “mazeltov” sent to Anoushka Goldman and Gila Pearlman

A rushed amended newsletter was then sent, less than two hours later, with the mazeltov deleted along with the following clarification: “The incorrect attachment was sent with the previous email. It was a mistake and oversight by a member of the admin staff and was not approved by the mazkirut [leadership team] or Rav Shaliach [Bnei Akiva’s advisory rabbi].”

Jewish News understands discussions took place about whether to publish the mazeltov, with most members of the leadership team supporting its inclusion. It is believed that four out of six members of the team attended Anoushka and Gila’s engagement party.

One source said: “Many mazkirut did not support the decision to omit the engagement announcement and feel distressed by the hurt this has caused.”

The senior team was reportedly overruled by religious authorities within Bnei Akiva UK so the original newsletter containing the mazeltov was sent without approval. The two staff members responsible for the weekly email are understood to be part-time and were not working when the first email was issued.

According to the Bnei Akiva UK code of conduct there is “a zero-tolerance policy towards anti-social, sexist, racist, homophobic or otherwise negative behaviour” and it describes itself on its website as an “inclusive youth movement”  where “everyone is welcome”.

Earlier this year two Bnei Akiva UK emissaries, including Bnei Akiva’s Rabbi, Rav Joel, met with Israel politician and “proud homophobe” Bezalel Smotrich. At the time Bnei Akiva UK distanced itself from the meeting, stating: “This went ahead without our knowledge and the Shlichim [representatives] attended in an individual capacity. As a movement we would like to reaffirm our values of Ahavat Yisrael, encouraging inclusion and acceptance of all, and rejecting all forms of racism, homophobia and hate.”

Joe Hyman, a Jewish LGBTQ+ activist who worked with Bnei Akiva UK to welcome LGBTQ+ people into the movement, told Jewish News: “Bnei Akiva UK has made huge strides in recent years thanks to young LGBTQ+ Jews courageously sharing their experience and staying within the movement.

“It’s now time that those who have given their lives to the movement are treated with the full dignity of their peers. Creating an environment, where young people are partially included up to the point they find someone to love and build a family with, will inevitably lead to deep pain and estrangement from the movement.”

Jewish News has contacted Bnei Akiva for comment.

Anoushka Goldman and Gila Pearlman declined to comment.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments