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Haredi group readmits London shul led by rabbi accused of misconduct

COVENTRY, England (JTA) — Britain’s Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations readmitted a synagogue whose rabbi was accused of inappropriate conduct with women less than a day after it severed ties with it.

The haredi Orthodox umbrella organization had expelled the synagogue on Monday morning, publishing a letter saying that Rabbi Chayim Halpern’s Divrei Chaim Synagogue in London was “no longer affiliated” with the union, according to The Jewish Chronicle.

But by the following day, the union had released a second statement saying that the announcement of the synagogue’s expulsion was “released as the result of a misunderstanding” and that the shul was still part of the union, according to the Times of Israel.

Following complaints by women who reportedly said Halpern had acted “improperly” during counseling sessions, the union had previously announced a plan to convene a special Beth Din, a rabbinic court, consisting of independent dayanim, or judges, to examine the complaints.

The letter, signed by the union’s general secretary, Chaim Schneck, offered no explanation for the latest turn of events, the Chronicle reported.

Halpern resigned last month from his position as a dayan with the union but has maintained his innocence, saying that his marriage counseling sessions were conducted according to Jewish law.

A number of London rabbis have declared that Halpern was “not fit and proper to act in any rabbinic capacity.”

Halpern is the son of the union’s president, Rabbi Elchonon Halpern, and was considered one of the powerful figures within the union rabbinate, according to the Chronicle.
 

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