The repercussions of a 90-minute lecture by the Senior Rabbi of the UK Sephardi community, Rabbi Joseph Dweck, are being felt all over the Jewish world. The lecture dealt with homosexuality, but did not condone physical acts - Rabbi Dweck said these were against the Torah. However, men could love each other in other ways. Dweck's critics, including the Chief Rabbi of Israel, rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, have been trying to discredit him by casting doubt on the validity of his other rulings. Meanwhile, Rabbi Dweck's own community has declared itself solidly behind him. Jenni Frazer in The Times of Israel gives the background to the controversy (with thanks: Sylvia):
LONDON — Those close to the Rabbi Joseph Dweck affair have described is as “a behemoth of an issue.” It’s a suitably biblical term for what might seem, on the face of it, an arcane spat between British religious scholars over the permissibility — or not — of homosexuality.
But, in fact, the repercussions of a lecture which seemingly condoned homosexual relationships that Dweck delivered in London this past may go far beyond that. At stake could be the Jewish religious status of anyone who has availed themselves of the rabbi’s services, whether for circumcision, conversion or marriage.
The uproar follows a 97-minute talk the rabbi gave to members of the Ner Yisrael Community in Hendon, northwest London, on homosexuality in Jewish law.
“[W]e have to see ultimately how it is we deal with it in terms of Torah and society,” Dweck said at the lecture. “If we do not hang our prejudices at the door when we deal with it, and don’t look at Torah as it is and what it is saying to us, and stop with the insane bigotry and prejudice we’ve got, we will be on the out and society will move forward because [God] doesn’t wait for anybody. He is taking His world into love.”
As the senior rabbi of the Spanish and Portuguese congregation — and thus, effectively, the titular head of Britain’s small but vibrant Sephardi Jewish community — the Los Angeles-born rabbi has attracted a devoted following since taking up his post three years ago.
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In defence of rabbi Dweck and orthodox Judaism (R. Lopez Cardoso)