Maidenhead rabbi on why he ‘broke golden rule of clergy and party politics’

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Maidenhead rabbi on why he ‘broke golden rule of clergy and party politics’

'If there is one lesson arising, it is that antisemitism is racism by another name and needs to be treated the same,' leading Reform rabbi says in letter to newspaper

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain

Maidenhead Synagogue’s Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain has explained why he broke the “golden rule of clergy and party politics” last year to urge congregants to vote tactically against the Labour Party at the December election amid the ongoing row over antisemitism.

Rabbi Romain took the extraordinary step last October of urging congregants to “put aside all other considerations and vote for whichever party is most likely to defeat Labour.”

The party had been engulfed into an antisemitism row after Dame Louise Ellman quit after being a member for 55 years citing concerns over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Now, in a letter to the Times, the leading Reform rabbi says his appeal to worshippers was not “motivated by opposition to Labour per se but to Corbyn-led Labour.”

He writes that he was motivated by allegations that “for the first time in living memory, a major political party was infused with antisemitism in its leadership.”

“If there is one lesson arising, it is that antisemitism is racism by another name and needs to be treated the same,” the letter says.

A spokesperson for Labour had said at the time of Rabbi Romain’s appeal that it “is fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and continues to take robust action to root out antisemitism in the party and wider society.”

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