Archbishop Exclusive: ‘My Cousin The Rabbi’

Justin Welby’s comments, on the eve of his enthronement at Canterbury Cathedral today, came during an interview with the Jewish News in which he also voiced opposition to Israel boycotts, revealed plans to visit the Jewish state this summer and praised the Chief Rabbi as “one of the most significant religious thinkers”.

The past few months since being named as Archbishop have been transformative for Welby, not just because of his elevation within the Church of England but because he learned for the first time – as a result of a Daily Telegraph investigation – of his family’s Jewish roots.

Chemist Dr Gerhard Weiler, a cousin of the Archbishop’s father Gavin, fled with his family after Hitler came to power, later being registered as an “enemy alien” in the UK.

The 57-year-old former bishop of Durham said he was “really, really pleased” to discover details of his Jewish ancestry, but added: “It’s quite sobering to think I had a bunch of second cousins that didn’t escape.”

The great-grandfather of the man who will be formally confirmed today as the leader of 80 million Anglicans worldwide, along with three of his brothers, headed to London more than four decades earlier. The father-of-five told the Jewish News: “Once we’ve moved in properly, we’re going to meet up with some cousins who I had no idea about. One of them is a rabbi who recently wrote to me. He’s one of the senior teachers at a Jewish college in London. We’ll try to meet up, or get them to Lambeth Palace to do something fun to celebrate. To discover you’ve got a family you didn’t know about is really exciting.”

He also revealed he hopes to visit the grave at Hoop Lane Cemetery in Golders Green of his great-grandmother Amalie, who lived in Hampstead until her death in 1914. The Cambridge-educated former oil executive comes to office just eight months after Anglican-Jewish relations were severely strained when the Church’s Synod voted to affirm support for a programme accused by the Board of Deputies of producing “very partisan activists” on the Middle East.

The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel takes participants to the region for around three months, but critics point out that only a fraction of that time is spent in Israel, before accompaniers return to give public talks about their experiences. The private member’s motion also expressed support for Israelis and Palestinians working for peace and for aid agencies in the region.

Welby said last summer’s vote – on which he abstained – had “clearly” damaged relations.

And in an unusual step he said: “On reflection, I’d have voted against. I wasn’t quite up to speed when I went into that vote. I think the situation in the holy land is so complicated that we always have to show we recognise this and I don’t think the motion adequately reflected reflected the complexity.”

He said he would have wanted something added to the text saying the Jewish state, like any other legitimate country, has the right to “live in security and peace within internationally-agreed borders and the people of the region have the right to justice, peace and security, whoever they are.”

While Welby said the situation caused by the Synod vote was “a concern and something we keep an eye on”, he stressed that he was not in a position to instruct the democratic Synod on how to vote.

Given that the EAPPI is not a CoE initiative, he added, it also wasn’t in the church’s “gift” to introduce a system of oversight of presentations made by returning participants, as urged by community leaders amid concern over the content of some talks.

But the 105th Archbishop wanted to “encourage” an “excellent” proposa, recently announced, for participants to spend a weekend with a Jewish family in Haifa.

The Archbishop – who said interfaith relations have always been “very important” to him – has gained vast experience in the field of reconciliation over the past decade, lecturing on the subject at the US State Department and undertaking work in Africa and elsewhere.

Asked whether he planned to voice his views on overcoming the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the 57-year-old said his reconciliation work had, in fact, taught him to speak out “extremely carefully… and only if I think I can make a significant difference.”

Welby said he was “very much looking forward” to making his first visit to Israelin his new role in June, when he will continue the series of meetings started by Dr Rowan Williams with Israel’s chief rabbies. “My wife and I went on honeymoon there and it’ll be her first time back since.”

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Opinion: Shared Parenting – One Size Definitely Does Not Fit All

Divorce is no longer considered an aberration, but an acceptable transition for a substantial number of families. While children tend to live with their mother following divorce, an increasing number are proposing that children have a “shared” amount of time with both parents. Shared parenting has been attempted in a range of countries outside the UK, with varied results.

Many adult clients describe the psychological effects of divorce as traumatic or devastating, such as the residential changes, financial tension, changes to social networks and role strain. Some have said these added stresses contributed to physical or mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Their levels of patience and attention have been reduced, they believe, which may affect their parenting abilities.

When working with children, there is often a range of emotional issues following divorce. Younger children tend to present with bedwetting, sleep issues or behavioural problems, whereas older children may describe anxiety, depression, and social or relationship issues. The number of children presenting with pyschological problems seems to decrease with the number of years that elapse. I have also been consulted by adults seeking therapy for psychological difficulties that have persisted throughout their childhood (following their parents’ divorce), including relationship struggles or trust issues.

With this in mind, there has been a call for government to review the legislation on shared parenting. In my opinion, the benefits are clear; the contribution of both parents in a child’s life on a regular basis, the balance of responsibilities as well as rewards of being with your child regularly (to name only a few) is certainly compelling.

Nonetheless, I am also aware of the potential danger in employing a “one size fits all” practice. By changing the law to instruct all divorced parents to embrace shared parenting, one runs the risk, while providing benefit to some families, of aggravating the situation in others. Although many parents desire and are able to provide a loving, caring home for their children as a single parent on a regular basis, others may not. For various reasons, some may feel they can be a better parent if they are instead able to have regular visitation. In more extreme cases, shared parenting can have dangerous effects if parents have a history of violence or abuse. It is paramount such a legal change seeks to provide appropriate safeguards, therefore, in those cases in which shared parenting is not deemed the best solution.

Research suggests children fare best within an environment of love, security and consistency, where parents communicate effectively with one another. Children whose parents are able to work together, in spite of their own differences, can create a consistently balanced, secure and loving home for their children based on quality rather than geography, and where the child understands they were not at fault.

Divorce is by no means necessarily an unwanted or potentially harmful event. On the contrary, in some cases, it can be the healthiest option. However, it seems clear the critical issue is how the separation is dealt with, and the effect this can have on the parents and children. We live among diverse environments and relationships.

When considering shared parenting, we need to ask what is in the best interests of the child. There may be times when this does not match with the best interests of the parents, and my concern is that by enforcing shared parenting for everyone, we may be putting the rights and needs of parents ahead of those of the children.

So, rather than reducing this debate to a matter of residency, or employing a ‘one size fits all’ rule, we should discuss how we can best help each individual situation, so children experience minimum loss and psychological impact.

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We Team Up With Tzedek To Help Fight Poverty

The initiative follows an investigation last week into the provision of food, shelter and advice to homeless Jews in London, an exposure that has subsequently led to a large number of Jewish News readers making individual pledges of support over the past few days.

Tzedek, which focuses on fighting poverty, is one of 33 national charities supporting the international Live Below The Line campaign, which challenges participants to live on &£1 a day for five days, to get a sense of the experience felt by 1.4billion people around the world.

Tzedek’s chief executive Jude Williams said: “We are very excited to have the Jewish News as our official media partner for the Live Below the Line fundraising campaign. The Jewish News offers us the chance to spread the word about this worthwhile campaign and recruit participants from throughout the British Jewish community, giving them a window into the day-to-day lives of people living in extreme poverty, while raising vital funds for our fight against global hunger.”

Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer said: “After focusing on the hidden plight of Jews in London struggling to make ends meet, this is a timely opportunity to highlight the issue of poverty by involving Londoners in a simple idea – living on next to nothing. We’ve noticed how the wider community seems to feel removed from – and ignorant of – the poorest among us, so Live Below The Line helps us all to relate to these difficulties – if only for five days.”

More than 20,000 people across three continents are planning to spend a week living below the extreme poverty line – defined by the World Bank using Purchasing Power Parity as $1.25 US dollars a day in 2005.
Converting this to the 2005 equivalent for the UK and adjusting for inflation, the extreme poverty line would be £1.

Over the coming weeks, the Jewish News will feature a series of opinion pieces and case studies, detailing the impact of poverty and the practical action that can be taken by us all to alleviate these issues.

Find out more at www.livebelowtheline.org.uk

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Opinion: Was The ZF Right To Reject Yachad? … NO

Long-frustrated at having been told their support for Israel was not good enough, people wanted a seat at the table.

It is no surprise Yachad grew so quickly. It captured the hearts and minds of so many thousands of our community, many from a younger generation, who, graduating through Zionist youth movements and active on university campuses, wanted a new framework by which they could support Israel, rather than simply defending the status quo.

When Yachad applied to affiliate to the Zionist Federation we did so in good faith, hoping to be able to represent this perspective within an organisation that claimed to be an umbrella movement of Zionism in the UK today.

After nearly ten months of answering questions, inviting council members to our events and doing everything that was required of us, we were told our application had been rejected ‘on no grounds’.

It was simply put to a vote and the vote went against us. We know from those present at previous discussions within the Zionist Federation, members of
the constitution committee ‘found no strong grounds to reject the application’, but nonetheless did so.

We thought this community had long ago done away with the notion that being ‘pro-Israel’ and ‘pro-Palestine’ – or, more accurately, ‘pro-the creation of a Palestinian state’ – were mutually exclusive. Apparently not. We’ve been told that our desire to show Anglo-Jewry Palestinian areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem means we are ‘too pro-Palestinian’ and not ‘pro-Israel’ enough.

The fact that we vocalise concerns in relation to settlement expansion is apparently indicative of our lack of support for Israel, despite the fact that 70 percent of this community does not support settlement expansion.

But supporters of Yachad stand with large numbers of current and former political, military and cultural leaders inside Israel whose opinions are no different to ours. Ehud Olmert, former Prime Minister of Israel, recently said of Yachad: “A two-state solution is the only possible road to peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people. The work of Yachad, which takes a strong and firm approach in support of this outcome is to be commended as the work of a truly Zionist organisation.” Is he too not welcome at the table?

When Yuval Diskin, most recent former head of the Shin Bet, was quoted as
saying tensions cannot be diffused so that a resolution can be found while settlement expansion is ongoing, did he forgo his right to call himself a Zionist? The chairman of Meretz, Zahava Gal-On, supported Palestine’s upgrade at the United Nations. Yet Meretz in the UK remains a member of the Zionist Federation. Had Meretz applied to join today, would its application, too, have been rejected?

Zionism has never been a monolithic ideology. One only has to look at the
disagreements between Ben Gurion and Ze’ev Jabotinsky as proof of this.
However it appears the Zionist Federation today perceives its role as policing the term, deciding what is Zionist behaviour and what is not, and in doing
so, chooses to exclude large numbers of this community.

A supporter of Israel, who desires to see a two-state solution and chooses to visit East Jerusalem with Yachad, in order to better understand who lives
there and the options for how the city could be shared in a final status agreement, can, it seems, no longer claim to be a Zionist.

The Zionist Federation of course has a right to make any decision it likes, but surely it has lost the right to define itself as the ‘umbrella of Zionism in
the UK’?

It is clear from the depth of feeling inside the community that has been shown this past week, that many people are looking to understand why supporting Yachad and being represented at the Zionist Federation are mutually exclusive.

This is now a conversation about what, and who, defines Zionism in 2013, and is too important to remain behind closed doors.

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Opinion: Was The ZF Right To Reject Yachad? … YES

Organisations, such as Yachad, wishing to join and participate as affiliate members, can do so through a democratic process. Within that process, there are criteria to be fulfilled and thereafter brought forward for vote by National Council (NC) members representing more than 50,000 people. Part of this process requires the Constitution Committee (CC) to consider all applications. In considering Yachad’s application, the CC confirmed that, while Yachad had signed up to the Jerusalem Program (set out by the World Zionist Organisation), in practice it does not comply with it, after examples were shown where Yachad’s overall support for Israel was found lacking.

Despite this non-recommendation, the application was not rejected, but put to the NC for vote. By a clear majority and following months of discussion on the matter, its application was not accepted at first attempt.

As Yachad is well aware, when an application is not accepted, there is the opportunity to discuss issues and reapply after six months. Yachad is not unique. Herut, a centre-right organisation, applied in the same way as Yachad and was also not confirmed on first application. Herut was subsequently accepted into the ZF as an affiliate organisation, upon later satisfying all constitutional requirements. This democratic process lies at the heart of
the moral fibre of the ZF and no single NC member or board member can override it.

The ZF is proud to be pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian and pro-peace. Our affiliated members range from the left, like Meretz and Pro-Zion, and also from the right of the political spectrum. Difficult issues are discussed and debated regularly in NC meetings. Even when views are radically polarised between members, we have always reached common ground through dialogue and respect. I firmly believe our differences should not divide us, but make us stronger to support a strong Israel in peace with its neighbours.

I do not believe the reasons of each of the members for their vote should be discussed publicly, as this would do harm to the ZF, Yachad and the wider community. Respect and decency will ultimately be the only way to work alongside one another. I don’t believe in making this dispute public and I will not respond to the public outburst by Yachad by denigrating this newly formed organisation within our community. Where I respect an alternative point of view, no matter how strong, I request that others should respect mine.

The ZF will be advocating for and bring people closer to Israel, never more so than in the upcoming months. On Sunday, we will hold our annual Gala dinner for more than 450 people, where the former head of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, Sir Richard Dearlove, and the former head of Mossad, Efraim Halevy, will be in conversation with each other. This will give an idea about the strong ties between Britain and Israel’s national security establishment.

To illustrate some of the best Israel has to offer, there will be a performance by The Israeli Opera. Furthermore, an Israel 65 Art Exhibit will be created by David Shilling. At a time when support for Israel is needed more than ever, our annual dinner helps bring all those together who are active in supporting Israel in the UK.

We will also be at the forefront of celebrations for Israel’s 65th birthday. We are holding the largest concert in Europe to mark the occasion at Wembley Arena, with more than 12,000 people attending. The event will showcase Israeli talent including Ishtar, the Israeli lead singer of Alabina, who has sold millions of records worldwide. Also performing will be Ivri Lider, one of the most successful Israeli musicians of his generation. Furthermore, those attending will hear the world famous Chico, founder of the Gipsy Kings, performing with his band, The Gypsies. There will be guest appearances from well-known celebrities, with more names to be announced soon.

This is a day to celebrate Israel’s existence and strong future and all the achievements that make us proud to be Zionists and I am delighted that the ZF is at the centre of this. This concert would not be possible without the support from all of our partner organisations; Jewish and non-Jewish groups united together under a single roof for a single purpose.

The ZF is a broad umbrella group inclusive of all types of Zionism and will remain representative of the Israel advocacy community, containing people from the left to the right of the political spectrum, to religious and secular, young and old, male and female, in support of Zionism.

Consequently, the ZF will continue to effectively challenge those who demonise Israel, as it has been doing for more than 100 years and will continue to do so for many more.

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Ed Miliband Set To Meet Jewish News Readers at Q&A Event

Miliband said: “It will be a great privilege to address the Board of Deputies. It is an institution which for hundreds of years has not only served Britain’s Jewish community but ensured the voice of that community is heard fairly across the United Kingdom.”

Board President Vivian Wineman said: “We’re delighted to provide an exciting platform through which members from across the community can engage with the leader of the opposition and explore the issues at the heart of the
concerns of our community. It’s also great to be partnering with the Jewish News, which has a track record for delivering top-quality grass-roots political events.”

As with the Douglas Alexander event earlier this month, Iran’s nuclear programme, the campaign to proscribe Hezbollah, the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace and Labour’s support are likely to top the agenda at next month’s event.

The man hoping to become Britain’s second Jewish prime minister in 2015 is also likely to also be quizzed on faith schools, shechita and the delegitimisation of the Jewish state in the UK. Among those who have also participated in Jewish News Q&A sessions over the past three years are Nick Clegg, William Hague, Boris Johnson and the then foreign secretary, David Miliband.

• To book free tickets, email info@bod.org.uk with your name, contact details and how many tickets you’d like. The event starts at 7pm.

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Praise For a Pope Who ‘Brought Judaism and Christianity Closer’

The outgoing Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, who has met the Pope several times, said: “I saw him as a man of gentleness, of quiet and of calm, a deeply thoughtful and compassionate individual who carried with him an aura of grace and wisdom.”

Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner added: “We have very good relations with the Catholic Church in Britain and wish them blessings at this time of transition.”

The Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger said the pontiff had improved ties between Judaism and Christianity. “During his term, the relations between Judaism and Christianity became much closer, which brought a decrease in anti-Semitic acts around the world,” he said.

The World Jewish Congress meanwhile said that that the 85-year old had “elevated Catholic-Jewish relations onto an unprecedented level.” It added: “No pope before him visited as many synagogues. No pope before him made more strides to improve the relationship with the Jews on so many levels.”

Despite the Pope’s outreach work, there were still wounds to heal, warned the Council of Christians and Jews. “Pope Benedict XVI made some determined efforts to improve relations between the Catholic Church, the world-wide Jewish community and the state of Israel,” read a CCJ statement. “We welcomed this departure from centuries of ill-feeling. There are further bridges to be built between the two communities and we hope that whoever becomes the next Pope will further those aims.”

The German-born leader of the Catholic Church has been no stranger to controversy in the UK and elsewhere, most notably for presiding over the fallout from an ongoing child abuse scandal and latterly for his butler leaking Vatican documents alleging corruption.

However, he endeared himself towards the world’s Jewish population, after his 2011 book ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ in which he exonerated the Jewish people for the death of Christ.

However Britain’s Jewish community will be more likely to recall Benedict’s decision to lift the ex-communication of English cleric Richard Williamson, who said only 200,000 to 300,000 Jews died in the Holocaust and none perished in gas chambers. The Pope later expressed his regret, saying he had not known about Williamson’s stance at the time.

Despite the conservative Benedict XVI’s historic visit to predominantly Muslim Turkey, where he prayed in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, the outgoing Vatican head was reminded by reformist former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami that the wounds between Christians and Muslims were still “very deep” as a result of the Pope’s 2006 Regensburg speech, in which he quoted an emperor as saying ‘Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only bad and inhumane.’

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Latest Figures Show Rise In Social Media Anti-Semitism

Figures published today by the Community Security Trust show there were 640 incidents targeting community members and property during the 12 months to December – the third highest total in more than two decades – including a rise during the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

But the CST attributed the overall increase – including a 55 percent increase in the Greater London area – “largely” to a new data sharing system with the Metropolitan Police which saw officers pass on details of 100 incidents during the year.

Without those figures being included, the CST said, there would have been an 11 percent overall decrease. “These figures require careful analysis,” said director of communications Mark Gardner. “Discounting incidents from the new exchange system, the overall UK like-for-like level may actually have fallen slightly. Overall, we are very pleased with the information sharing with police and the figures should now be even more accurate than in previous years.”

In Greater Manchester, where the CST and police have run an incident exchange programme since 2011, the report shows a 34 percent drop. Last year saw a 27 percent fall in the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks from 95, with two of these involving grievous bodily harm or a threat to life.

Among the 69 assaults in 2012 was an attack on a customer in a London bakery who was left needing hospital treatment after being punched last July. A man was allegedly heard to say: ‘F****** Jews… I f****** hate the Jews.’ The same month, in Hertfordshire, a rabbi was on his way home from synagogue when a car slowed down and the driver threw a penny at him, shouting ‘There you go’.

Incidents of damage and desecration also fell to the lowest levels since 2005. However, 2012 saw a 13 percent rise in abusive behaviour (467), including graffiti and verbal abuse as well as more threats to people and property (39) and in offending literature, including mass mailings and individual hate mail (12).

The huge increase in incidents involving the use of internet based social media – 80 compared to 12 in 2011 – “reflects the growing relevance of social media as a place where Jews encounter anti-Semitism and the ease with which it can be reported, rather than being an absolute measure of anti-Semitism on social media platforms,” the report says.

Reacting to the report, a government spokesperson said: “Anti-Semitism is unacceptable and has no place in a civilised society. Hate crime, including religious hate crime, has devastating consequences for victims and their families, and also divides communities. We should all work together to confront this despicable behaviour.

“The government continues to deliver its action plan, which aims to protect victims and take firm action against those who commit hate crimes.”

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Ward will face harsher action if he repeats intolerable slur

Let me remind you what was said. Direct comparison was made between the conflict in the Middle East, and the devastating atrocities inflicted on Jews by the Nazis. That is bad enough at any time, but David did it on a day when we were remembering and mourning. I cannot be clearer in my view that both David’s language and timing were unacceptable. I made this view clear in my correspondence with the Holocaust Educational Trust the next day and again to David when I met with him shortly afterwards. It was intolerable because it is both inaccurate and offensive to equate and link all Jewish people with the actions of the Israeli Government and the state of Israel.

It was intolerable because the Holocaust was a particular crime against humanity that involved the attempted extermination of a people. Whatever view we take of the actions of the Israeli government, no one would attribute that end to them. It was intolerable because the Jewish community, like the rest of us, will never forget Nazi cruelty, and deserve better than being lumped together and being described as “the Jews”.
Furthermore, while all of us unequivocally support the right for Israel to live in peace and to defend itself, that doesn’t mean every Jewish person in Israel or indeed the Diaspora supports every action taken by the Netanyahu Government. David’s language implied otherwise, and this is inaccurate and highly offensive.
When discussing sensitive issues such as this, language really matters, as does timing. David’s comments appeared on Holocaust Memorial Day, a day on which we pay our respects to victims of the Shoah. It was inappropriate to use a vehicle such as the signing of the book of commemoration to make these comments.
With all this in mind, I considered David’s offence so serious that, as Chief Whip, I censured him. This is the most serious formal disciplinary measure available to me as Chief Whip alone. It is the first time since I took on the role in 2010 that I have invoked the formal disciplinary procedures at all. I struggle to recall any Chief Whip using them since I became an MP in 2001.
This has been compared in the press to a parliamentary yellow card, a final warning. It is a very serious move and while all of these metaphors are correct, I consider my action as being more serious. In taking the action that I have sent a message to any Parliamentarian that this type of language and approach will not be tolerated by our party.
I have read the comment of those who regard it as a “slap on the wrist”. I can see why some might conclude that, but they are wrong. I trust taking this action emphasises just how grave we in the Liberal Democrats consider this to be. I have also made it absolutely clear that nothing of this sort must ever happen again. If it were to, the already serious consequences for David Ward would escalate significantly.
My party is one based on tolerance, and while issues around the Middle East are always likely to provoke heated debated, I am determined that that debate will be conducted in the manner and tone that are consistent with these values of tolerance and respect. I hope the Jewish community will not consider those comments as any way reflective of the view of the Liberal Democrat Party. Israel as a country, and the UK Jewish community as a whole, are both not only highly regarded by our party but we consider ourselves collectively friends of both your community and of the state of Israel. From the Holocaust Educational Trust to the CST and beyond, the Jewish community is a shining example of integration, self-sufficiency and charitable excellence.
I was lucky enough to attend the large Lib Dem Friends of Israel Lunch in December 2010. At that event, Nick Clegg made it clear in his speech that our party needed to rebalance how we discuss Israel and the Middle East. That point is as valid now as it was then. While I believe we are making good progress on this, I do accept that as a party we need to continue to build further bridges.
I will guide Lib Dem Parliamentarians to work with the highly respected Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel group and organisations like the Board of Deputies, CST and JLC on this. And we will, of course, continue to challenge anti-Semitism in the UK, wherever it occurs.

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Members of Britain’s strictly Orthodox community are living in fear of reprisals if they report allegations of child sexual abuse to the police, claimed a damning investigation which aired last night.

Britain’s Hidden Child Abuse, from Channel 4′s Dispatches, featured an interview with a Charedi rabbi who said a young family had been targeted and driven out of their community after telling the authorities their child had been sexually abused in a synagogue.

The rabbi, who wished to remain anonymous, took the extraordinary step of breaking rank and speaking out against Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, who leads the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (UOHC), based in Stamford Hill.

Speaking to an interviewer, the rabbi said there were “tremendous ramifications” for the victim’s family if they go to the police with such claims, “because in certain segments of the Orthodox community being labelled as an informer is one of the most terrible things that can happen.”

He alleged that after the police were contacted, Rabbi Padwa told the child’s father: “How dare you go and be an informer? It’s forbidden for you to pursue the case.”

Then hours later, the rabbi claims the family were approached by a man, who threatened to call social services and have their children taken away. He also alleged they were harassed with cars driving up close to them and that they were “cursed and spat at in the street”.

The programme also showed Rabbi Padwa being secretly filmed and telling a man, who alleged he had been sexually abused as a child, that it was “mesira” or forbidden to report a suspected Jewish sex offender to a non-Jewish authority.

In another part of the documentary, a group of young Charedi men claim to have become so disillusioned with their rabbis that they have turned to vigilantism and physically attack the alleged perpetrators.

Over the course of a year, Dispatches claims it uncovered 19 allegations of child sex abuse across England that have not been reported to authorities out of fear of reprisals.

Ben Hirsch from Survivors for Justice, a New York-based organisation which supports victims of sexual abuse and their families, said the situation outlined in the broadcast was “a familiar one to many victims within strictly Orthodox communities worldwide.”

He added: “We have spoken with numerous victims in the US and abroad who have been threatened, harassed and ostracized after they reported their abusers to the police. Rabbis in these communities regularly protect child molesters at the expense of child safety.”

Rabbi Alex Chapper of Ilford Federation Synagogue, who is also the Children’s Rabbi, said that while such allegations are “a shock” to the community, “the suggestion it has not been dealt with appropriately is a source of shame and dishonesty.”

He added: “Any cover up of any abuse only benefits the abuser and not the victim. Our priority is to stop this happening. We have a duty of care to protect the young and vulnerable.”

The UOHC however refuted any claims that its leaders do not take allegations of child abuse seriously and called this “a slur on our community.”

A spokesman added: “We have a duty and a responsibility to protect our children. They are our future and we do all we can to protect them from these unspeakable crimes.

“We may once have thought that our community was immune from such matters, but we now know that we are not.

“For a number of years now we have worked closely with the local authorities and where appropriate the police, and we have robust procedures in place within all our schools.”

He added the UOHC has a special committee to deal with such cases and that ahead of the programme’s broadcast, Rabbi Padwa had written to rabbis and head teachers “reminding them of their responsibilities and pledging once again to do all we can to protect our children by creating a safe environment within our community”.

But Survivors For Justice claims the UOHC was still not doing enough to report allegations to the police or to provide support to alleged victims.

Mr Hirsch said: “The Orthodox Hebrew Congregations’ “special committee” has no business acting as a gatekeeper between crime victims and the police. They, not rabbis or a “special committee,” have the training to filter out false allegations.”

He added: “In the US there is a growing grassroots movement providing support for victims of abuse and this has helped many to come forward. Our impression based on discussions with victims from the UK is that they are much more isolated and have little support. This has to change.”

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