Chief Rabbi laments ‘shameful episode’ following Dayan’s resignation

Chief Rabbi laments ‘shameful episode’ following Dayan’s resignation

Unprecedented message sent by Chief Rabbi Mirvis to Orthodox leaders, following Dayan Yonason Abraham's departure from Beth Din and Hendon shul he helped found

Justin Cohen is the News Editor at the Jewish News

Chief Rabbi Mirvis and Dayan Yonason Abraham
Chief Rabbi Mirvis and Dayan Yonason Abraham

The Chief Rabbi has spoken of the “shameful episode” that saw the resignation of a former dayan of the London Beth Din.

Dayan Yonason Abraham stepped down to the Beth Din and the Hendon shul he helped found in recent days, saying he had “fallen short of the standards expected” and was “deeply sorry I have let you down”.

In a forthright and unprecedented message to rabbis under his auspices, Ephraim Mirvis, he said: “The London Beth Din is one of the oldest and most respected Batei Din in the world. To have discovered that one of our Dayanim had, in his own words, “fallen short of the standards expected” of him, has shaken us to the core.  When one of us fails in this manner, we are all greatly diminished.

“A Beth Din must be unimpeachable in its embodiment of Torah values – anything less is entirely unacceptable.  It was for this reason that I, together with Dayan Gelley and the United Synagogue, ensured that the matter was dealt with so swiftly.

This shameful episode has been met by many with disbelief and has caused great pain. In addition, there are innocent family members who have been directly affected and whose lives have been devastated by it.  As a community, we have a responsibility to look after them, to respect their privacy and to offer appropriate support.”

He added he had faith in the community’s capacity to come through this “painful ordeal”.

The dayan said in a letter to Toras Chaim Synagogue congregants before Shabbat he had been under “exceptional strain and stress for some time which has taken its inevitable toll. I have spent my life helping others including some wonderful friends and supporters in this kehillah (congregation) of which I am so proud. I now need to help myself and my family.” He thanked the community for kidness it had shown him and his wife and insisted it must “remain strong and united and move forward together”.

A prominent Charedi rabbi and one of only four Beth Din members, Abraham was born in London and educated at Hasmonean before studying and working in Gateshead, Jerusalem and Australia, where he was a member of the Melbourne Beth Din. He returned to the UK in 2001 and at the age of 37 became a member of the London Beth Din. He has been a regular lecturer at the Kinloss Learning Centre and works with Tribe, which runs summer programmes for Jewish children in Years 5-13.

In 2016, he accepted a senior position at Shuvu, a network of day schools founded 1991 by Rabbi Avraham Pam.

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