Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Firing Epistle

First Anti Halpern Letter

Note on translation: Since the text waffles on in places I have omitted the less relevant passages. The letter refers to Rav Padwa in the 3rd person which has been changed to direct speech.
Committee of Rabbis of NW London
Days of Selichos Elul 5772 [September 2012]

To the Gaavad of the UOHC Rabbi M.C.E Padwa shlita

We have become aware that one of the Dayanim, a member of the Union Rabbinate, is involved in obscene acts with married women. By ‘obscene’ we mean deeds that according to all [halachic] opinions are within the category of an obligation of martyrdom rather than commit the acts. Many women have testified that he speaks freely in the most licentious of manners. To our great consternation, his actions too are of an extremely grave nature. Those close to the matter have said that even if he has yet to transgress the prohibition against adultery, there is considerable concern that he may commit such acts too in the near future, God forbid.
We know that you are well aware of these matters, as you have already been informed about them from several sources.
You are certainly aware, just as we are, that several years ago, three of London's senior rabbis rebuked this individual regarding his obscene conduct, in terms of physical contact with women and such like, and he gave his word to desist in future.
The undertaking of this individual is, however, entirely worthless, as he is renown as a compulsive liar. You are well aware of this too given that you have also been informed of his lying habits.

Undoubtedly the preparation for the rally prevented you from dealing with other matters, but does not the ‘rescue of our generation’ take precedence over “the Rescue of all Generations”?
It appears that you were surprised that R. Chaim Kanievsky refused to write a letter of support for the "rally". We, however, were not surprised. How could someone smeared with this filth be accorded pride of place, exhorting the masses not to use the internet, when he himself is deeply immersed in precisely these things, Heaven help us? This is akin to one who immerses himself whilst still grabbing the rodent [i.e. the very cause of his impurity]…
You then added insult to injury when all the dayanim of the Union Rabbinate, including this individual, signed a proclamation [headed], "Let us search and examine our ways", which summoned everyone on the first day of Selichos "to cry out and beseech one hour before Mincha", to withdraw (God's) fury. [This was] in light of the recent tragedies that have occurred here in London, may God save us, that we have been afflicted with the deaths of seven young scholars, "the pride and glory of our town".
How could you ignore the explicit statement of our Sages, that "[because of sexual immorality] young men of Israel perish".

The rabbis here in Golders Green will not rest until this evil is removed from out midst. All of us want to avoid the profanation of God’s name, God forbid. [Some of] the women have said that if the rabbis do not act to remove this individual from our town they will report the matter to the police. We have no doubt that if this were to happen he will be imprisoned, as we have been advised by professionals on these subjects.
Needless to say that it would be desirable for the Rabbinate to avoid any delay so that the matter is not publicised, as it would lead to a horrendous desecration of God’s name.
We accordingly request that the Rabbinate order this individual to leave town, without any delay, in order to minimise the horrendous desecration of God’s name should the matter be publicised.

N.B. This letter was shown to R. Chaim Kanievsky and he remarked that it is ‘well in order’.
A copy of this letter is being made available to all parties concerned in this matter.
If Chaim Halpern, as heir presumptive to his father's presidency of the UOHC, was Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and if we are currently witnessing a world war on the streets of frum London, then surely this letter is the opening shot that started it all off. Our Sarajevo moment, if you like.
The letter, which is addressed to Rav Ephraim Padwa, was first referred to in the Jewish Chronicle and the original now sees light for the first time. According to the JC, it was sent unsigned on behalf of a group calling itself “The Committee of North-West London rabbis” and “more than one rabbi agreed to it being sent.” The letter is dated by reference only to the month of Elul and according to the JC it was sent a few days before Rosh Hashana, which fell on 16 September 2012.
This letter is most important because it belies any claim that the UOHC were willing to act but were outmanoeuvred by the Gilui Da’as. It shows that for at least a month Rav Padwa knew of the allegations and strength of feeling and he did nothing until the story hit the street. Even then it took him about another month or so to react in any meaningful way. I have a recording of a phone conversation in November with Rav Padwa, in which he is asked whether it is in order to ask Halpern more serious shales and he replies in the affirmative.
The hypocrisy is even more breathtaking when you consider that at the start of September, the UOHC convened a massive rally at the Leyton Orient stadium to warn against the ‘dangers’ of the internet and technology where Halpern graced the podium. At an earlier, smaller, meeting in North West London, Halpern also spoke about the same ‘dangers’.
It is clear from the letter that Padwa had been briefed on the issue shortly before the LO rally whose theme was ‘The Rescue of the Generations.’ The letter refers to the rally somewhat sarcastically when it says, “Undoubtedly the preparation for the rally prevented [you] from dealing with other matters,” and goes on to ask barbedly, “but does not the ‘rescue of our generation’ take precedence over “the Rescue of all Generations”?
Thanks to senders of letter and for assistance with translation.