Amsterdam’s chief rabbi removed from the job after gay row

Amsterdam’s Orthodox Jewish community has suspended rabbi Aryeh Ralbag as its nominal chief 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, the Telegraaf said on Tuesday evening.
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’.
Ralbag, who lives in New York and visits the Netherlands once or twice a year to rule on legal matters, signed the statement using all his official functions, including that of chief rabbi of Amsterdam. That part of his signature has now been removed.
‘Rabbi Ralbag’s signature may give the impression the Orthodox Jewish community of Amsterdam shares his view,’ said a press release by the community’s board NIHS. ‘This is absolutely untrue. Homosexuals are welcome at the Amsterdam Jewish community.’
The Dutch Israel information centre CIDI has also called on Ralbag to stand down from his Amsterdam position, the Telegraaf said.
According to deputy director Esther Voet in the Jerusalem Post, the Dutch Jewish community is unique. ‘We need a chief rabbi who is aware of our traditions and that’s something you cannot fly in two times a year,’ the paper quoted her as saying.

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