Chief rabbi of Amsterdam suspended over ‘curing’ homosexuality document

(JTA) — The chief rabbi of Amsterdam was suspended from his position for signing a statement on "curing" homosexuality.

Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag of New York, who travels to the Netherlands a couple times a year to rule on matters of Jewish law, signed the "Declaration On The Torah Approach To Homosexuality,” which states that "We emphatically reject the notion that a homosexually inclined person cannot overcome his or her inclination and desire. Behaviors are changeable. The Torah does not forbid something which is impossible to avoid," and that "therapy and teshuvah" can overcome homosexuality.

Ralbag signed the declaration listing all of his positions, including his job as rabbi of Congregation Ahavath Israel, the Young Israel of Avenue K in Brooklyn, and Av Beth Din Agudas Harabbonim of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, as well as chief rabbi of Amsterdam. The Amsterdam post part of the signature has since been removed.

Ralbag will remain suspended until he and community leaders discuss the issue in person, the Dutch Telegraaf reported. 

"Rabbi Ralbag’s signature may give the impression the Orthodox Jewish community of Amsterdam shares his view," said a news release issued Tuesday by the  Executive Committee of the Jewish Community of Amsterdam. "This is absolutely untrue. Homosexuals are welcome and recognized as full members of the Amsterdam Jewish community."

Some 180 rabbis, community leaders and mental health professionals have signed the statement initiated, according to a page on the website, by Jews who say they have overcome their homosexuality. 

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