Turin chief rabbi dismissed over ‘inflexibility’


ROME (JTA) — In an unprecedented move for Italian Jewry, the Jewish community in Turin has dismissed its chief rabbi for being too rigidly Orthodox.

Rabbi Alberto Somekh was removed following three years of acrimonious debate and more than a year after the Turin Jewish community, which is largely secular or non-observant, announced its decision to dismiss him.

In April 2009 Somekh appealed that decision to the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, which established a commission to investigate the matter. The commission announced May 13 that it rejected Somekh’s appeal.

Somekh had served as chief rabbi in Turin since 1992, but in the past several years he had antagonized a large segment of the 900-member community by what critics described as his "inflexibility."

Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, on May 14 called the case "a painful and isolated affair that has no precedent in Italian Judaism."

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