Senior haredi rabbi was duped into signing letter supporting Corbyn, group says

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn makes a campaign speech in Battersea, England, Oct. 31, 2019. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Cnaan Liphshiz

LONDON (JTA) – The United Kingdom’s main umbrella group for haredi Orthodox communities said one of its senior rabbis was “deceived” into appearing to defend the Labour Party from accusations of anti-Semitism.

The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations published a statement on Monday about a document that was signed recently by Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, the union’s leader. It said that activists seeking to improve Labour’s position ahead of the Dec. 12 elections had taken advantage of Padwa’s poor health, the Jewish News of London reported.

Shraga Stern, a haredi British activist supporting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, circulated a letter that he said had been signed by Padwa condemning an attack on Corbyn over anti-Semitism by British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

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In a Nov. 26 op-ed, Mirvis called Corbyn “complicit in prejudice.” He cited thousands of incidents involving alleged anti-Semitism – some of them involving Corbyn himself – that began proliferating in Labour’s ranks after the 2015 election of Corbyn, a far-left politician who has called Hamas his “friends,” as party leader.

“It is truly shocking that Mr. Stern and others would seek to take advantage of the Rov’s current poor health by deceiving him into signing a letter that has now been twisted into an endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn,” the umbrella group wrote. “Padwa’s position is ‘that he does not involve himself in such partisan political matters.’”

Corbyn has denied allegations that he has allowed anti-Semitism to flourish in Labour.

His plans to curtail some liberties enjoyed by faith schools have alarmed religious communities.