Louis Ja­cobs group hit by ‘cen­sor­ship’

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

A GROUP set up in mem­ory of Rabbi Louis Ja­cobs, the founder of Ma­sorti in the UK, says it is giv­ing up a venue it uses in a dis­pute about cen­sor­ship.

The Friends of Louis Ja­cobs, which was es­tab­lished in 2006 to pro­mote dis­cus­sion of Rabbi Ja­cobs’s ideas, has reg­u­larly hired a hall from the Cen­tral Square Minyan, an in­de­pen­dent Or­tho­dox con­gre­ga­tion in Hamp­stead Gar­den Sub­urb, north Lon­don

But the Friends say Cen­tral Square now wants to be no­ti­fied about speak­ers in case it has prob­lems with them.

In a state­ment, the trustees of the Friends said: “We are not pre­pared to prej­u­dice our in­de­pen­dence in any way. There­fore we will not be us­ing the hall for the fore­see­able fu­ture.”

The dis­pute fol­lows a lec­ture at the hall given to the Friends last month by Ben­jamin Som­mer, pro­fes­sor of Bi­ble at the Jewish The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary in New York, which trains Con­ser­va­tive rab­bis.

In his writ­ings, Pro­fes­sor Som­mer has ar­gued it is pos­si­ble to rec­on­cile ac­cep­tance of bib­li­cal schol­ar­ship — which be­lieves the To­rah was com­piled over time rather than dic­tated word for word by God to Moses —– with tra­di­tional ob­ser­vance of the com­mand­ments.

The Friends say Cen­tral Square had told them that pub­lic­ity for the lec­ture had caused it dif­fi­cul­ties.

Cen­tral Square sug­gested that its name should not be men­tioned in con­nec­tion with fu­ture Friends’ events and that it be given the op­por­tu­nity to veto any speaker it ob­jected to.

In its state­ment, the trustees of the Friends said its lec­tures were de­signed to pro­mote “open de­bate about mat­ters rel­e­vant to all de­nom­i­na­tions.

“All of a sud­den con­cern has been ex­pressed by the hall trustees about who we may ask to speak in the fu­ture.” It urged Cen­tral Square to re­think. Si­mon Eder, di­rec­tor of the Friends, said: “This is an ex­am­ple of si­lenc­ing and cen­sor­ship which seems to be a pre­vail­ing trend within the es­tab­lish­ment at this time.”

No one from Cen­tral Square was avail­able for com­ment.

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