COPENHAGEN (Sep. 19)
Denmark’s Chief Rabbi Bent Melchior resigned today amid a controversy that threatens to split this country’s small but closely knit Jewish community. The 43-year-old rabbi, immensely popular with Jews and non-Jews alike, submitted his resignation after a conflict with Prof. Isi Foigl, chairman of the Jewish community. Prof. Foigl objected to Rabbi Melchior’s recent public appeal to the Danish government to recall its ambassadors from Arab countries that support Palestinian terrorists.
Rabbi Melchior made the proposal following the Sept. 5 Munich outrage. The rabbi told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that he would withdraw his resignation only if a majority of the Jewish community supported him. Considering the storm of protest that arose today when his resignation was announced, Rabbi Melchior enjoys substantial support.
Signatures are being collected on a petition asking him to stay. The daily, Berlingske Tidende, reported today that Rabbi Melchior planned to go to England and observed that he would be the first member of his family in more than 350 years to leave Denmark for any country other than Israel. Rabbi Melchior was elected Chief Rabbi two years ago on the death of his father. Rabbi Marcus Melchior, who was also Chief Rabbi of Denmark.