Some of the UK’s most senior Orthodox rabbis have backed the basic principles behind Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’s landmark guidance to schools on anti-LGBT+ bullying – – while warning some have interpreted his intervention as a relaxing of the Torah position on homosexuality.
In a major step forward for LGBT+ Jews in the UK, the six Charedi leaders – who between them represent the vast majority of strictly Orthodox Jews in the UK – stood firm behind Mirvis’s insistence that Jewish LGBT+ students and children should face no intolerance or ill will towards them for reasons of their sexuality or gender affiliation.
“We affirm that no child should suffer bullying, regardless of his or her inclinations,” they said, adding that it is “appropriate and correct for schools to ensure that among their staff are qualified individuals who are able to counsel pupils should the need arise”.
However, the rabbis – among the biggest names in Orthodox Jewry – warned Jews not to be fooled by any “misconceptions” over non-heterosexual “inclinations”.
Mirvis had earlier said “our children need to know that at school, at home and in the community, they will be loved and protected regardless of their sexuality or gender identity,” in comments warmly welcomed by the country’s biggest Jewish schools.
In their public letter issued on Friday, the rabbis said “some have interpreted the Chief Rabbi’s message as a relaxing of the Torah’s attitude towards alternative lifestyles” and said that compassion does not supersede Torah laws relating to relationships.
They added that they saw it as their “duty to rectify that misconception and remind the Jewish public of the authentic Jewish view”.
Signatories include Rabbi Efrayim Padwa, the principal rabbinic authority at the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations; Rabbi Shraga Zimmerman, the influential Rov of Gateshead; Dayan Lichtenstein, the Rosh Beth Din of the Federation of Synagogues; and Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, the former head of the United Synagogue’s Beth Din. Alongside them is Dayan Gavriel Kraus of the Manchester Beth Din and Rabbi Avrohom Gurwitz, who runs the huge Gateshead yeshiva.
In their letter, they continued: “One of the fundamental principles and tenets of the Jewish faith is that all laws and practices of the Torah are eternal and immutable, regardless of how modern society may view them.
“Accordingly, we state unequivocally that any intimate physical relationship other than that between a married male and female, is totally, strictly and absolutely forbidden according to Jewish law.”
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- beth din
- Federation of Synagogues
- LGBT Jews
- Rabbi Efrayim Padwa
- Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations
- Rabbi Shraga Zimmerman
- Rov of Gateshead
- Dayan Lichtenstein
- Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu
- United Synagogue
- United Synagogue’s Beth Din
- Dayan Gavriel Kraus
- Manchester Beth Din
- Rabbi Avrohom Gurwitz
- Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
By Joe Millis