LONDON – An Orthodox organization has retracted its expulsion of a synagogue led by a rabbi accused of sexual misconduct after less than a day.
Monday morning, the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, an umbrella group for Haredi institutions in London, announced that Beth Hamedrash Divrei Chaim was no longer affiliated to it. The synagogue is headed by Rabbi Chaim Halpern, a former religious judge with the organization, who has been accused of “inappropriate” conduct with around 30 women who came to him for counselling.
Before midnight that night, however, the head of the Union, Dayan Ephraim Padwa, had issued a hand-written letter declaring that the original statement was “released as the result of a misunderstanding” and that Divrei Chaim was still part of the organization.
According to comments on the blog Ifyoutickleus, the swift about-face took place after Dayan Padwa met with Halpern’s brother Moshe and a group of supporters. A high-volume altercation allegedly ended with an ambulance and the police both being called to the house. Dayan Padwa issued the retraction later that evening.
The allegations against Halpern, one of London’s senior Haredi leaders, have rocked the local Orthodox community, with a group of rabbis in his neighbourhod of Golders Green leading the efforts to have him removed from all his public positions, including the synagogue run out of his house.