Amsterdam’s chief rabbi takes step back after link to brutal divorce squad

Amsterdam’s chief rabbi has delegated most of his responsibilities to other rabbis and only remains technically head of the community, Trouw reported at the weekend.

Aryeh Ralbag is said to have close ties with an orthodox group in the US which is alleged to use handcuffs and cattle prods to torture a number of men into granting divorces known as a ‘get’. Several rabbis were last week convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and face sentencing in July.

Trouw has documents which show Ralbag acted as a rabbinical judge in at least one case in which a man was tied up until he agreed to divorce his wife. Ralbag is not considered a suspect but was called as a witness in the case, Trouw said.

A spokesman for the Amsterdam Jewish community said Ralbag ‘does not have enough time and attention’ for his Amsterdam role. He declined to say if there is a connection with the kidnapping case. ‘One does not rule the other out,’ deputy chairman David Brilleslijper said.

Three years ago Ralbag was temporarily suspended by the Dutch community after he signed a controversial document describing homosexuality as an illness which can be cured.

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