Masorti rabbi who called Israel ‘war criminals’ under internal investigation
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Masorti rabbi who called Israel ‘war criminals’ under internal investigation

EXCLUSIVE: 'I've caused pain and damaged our relationship. I'm sorry'. Rabbi Lara Haft Yom-Tov issues personal apology to New North London Synagogue community

Rabbi-Lara-Haft-Yom-Tov.
Rabbi-Lara-Haft-Yom-Tov.

A young community rabbi and Jewish educator working at New North London Synagogue is under internal investigation for branding Israeli politicians “war criminals who have forced Palestinian families to flee their homes”.

As reported by Jewish News, in ‘Let All Who Are Hungry Come and Eat‘, part of an alternative Haggadah supplement, Rabbi Lara Haft Yom-Tov, who asks to be referenced using they/them pronouns, dismissed those who will “lift up their matzah and wax poetic about the Israelites’ rush to escape Egypt”.

Rabbi Yom-Tov added that the “same politicians who have manufactured a famine in Gaza, leading millions to the brink of starvation, will proudly declare: ‘Let all who are hungry come and eat.'”

In correspondence shared with Jewish News, a note from the council and co-chair of New North London Synagogue (NNLS) states: “Following the publication of an online Haggadah supplement written by Rabbi Lara Haft Yom-Tov and subsequent feedback and media coverage, NNLS is currently undertaking an internal investigation.”

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, New North London Synagogue and Rabbi to Masorti Judaism. Pic: Facebook

It adds: “We know that emotions are running high. We aim as council to support our whole NNLS community.”

Louise Froggett, co-chief executive officer at New North London Synagogue, told Jewish News: “The synagogue is following its rules and procedures for these types of situations, including taking independent legal advice, with a view to agreeing an outcome as quickly as possible. Although we understand the desire for more information, we must not prejudice that process.”

Jewish News has also seen the letter written by Rabbi Lara shared within the NNLS community, in which they apologise for using the term “war criminals”.

They write: “I deeply appreciate everyone who trusted me, and the rest of the NNLS team, enough to share your thoughts. I regret that my piece didn’t reflect the deep love and concern that I feel for all Israelis, and particularly for the hostages and their families.

“I also apologise for using the term “war criminals”. I recognise that through my words I’ve caused pain to many members of our community and damaged our relationship. I missed the mark and I’m sorry. I still have much to learn as a new rabbi and I’m grateful to everyone who has offered me guidance and advice as I navigate my new role.”

They adds: “I’ve taken your guidance to heart and am continuing to reflect on the impact of my words so that I don’t make similar mistakes in the future. Going forward, I plan to work with my fellow rabbis throughout my writing process and seek the mentorship of trusted lay leaders so that I can continue to learn and grow in my role. I pray that we will soon see lasting peace, safety for all, and an end to this heart-wrenching war.”

A concerned member of NNLS, which boasts a membership of more than 3,000, contacted Jewish News to allege that Rabbi Yom-Tov was an activist involved with the BDS movement.

New North London synagogue

A paper from Bar Ilan University, naming Rabbi Lara, entitled ‘American Jews and their Israel problem’, refers to North Carolina city council voting to ban city police ‘military-style’ training with any foreign entities and to ban police exchanges of any sort with Israel. One of the activists involved in the vote is ‘Lara Haft’.

Additionally, in March 2018, Lara Haft wrote an article encouraging Jewish communities to divest from the police.

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