Sunday, January 22, 2012

Suspended Amsterdam rabbi won't visit out of fears for his life 

Amsterdam’s chief rabbi who was suspended last week because of his controversial views on homosexuality believes his life would be in danger if he came to the Netherlands, the NRC reports on Sunday.

Aryeh Ralbag told the paper: ‘I have strong indications that my wife and I would not be sure of our lives if we came to the Netherlands now.’ He declined to say what the threats were but did say he took them ‘extremely seriously’, the paper reported.

Amsterdam's orthodox Jewish community (NIHS) suspended rabbi Ralbag as its nominal chief last week after the New York-based official signed a statement describing homosexuality as an illness which can be cured.


Ralbag will remain suspended until he and community leaders have spoken about the issue, but it is unclear when this will happen now the rabbi has said he will not visit the Netherlands.

The declaration, signed by 162 rabbis and mental health practitioners last year, states that 'homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle' and that 'behaviours are changeable'.

According to the Volkskrant, the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), has criticized the Amsterdam organization for suspending Ralbag. The rabbi has done ‘nothing more than restate what the Torah says about homosexualilty,’ the paper quoted CER as saying.


British rabbi Dayan Lichtenstein has mailed Ronnie Eisemann, who chairs the NIHS saying if this ‘scandalous’ decision is not overturned, the group would no longer represent orthodox Jews, the paper says.

Historian Bart Wallet told the paper the NIHS board is a difficult position on a local and international level. ‘The NIHS is formally orthodox but has a broad following. Naming Ralbag took care of the right wing but the declaration on homosexuality has upset the majority of its supporters. There is a real threat [the organisation] may splinter.’


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