Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Rabbi Halpern “dangerous and sick” and the center of sex assault claims leads Purim party


An Orthodox rabbi who is the subject of a local authority child safeguarding alert led Purim celebrations surrounded by members of his community including children, pictures and video obtained by the JC reveal.

Despite the highly unusual warning, Rabbi Chaim Halpern was the honored guest at a party attended by around 50 men and young boys on Tuesday lunchtime.

Photographs and footage of the event show Halpern addressing the congregation and dancing with guests at the Beis Shmuel synagogue in Golders Green, north London, which is run by his brother Moshe, another rabbi.

In the video, speaking in Yiddish, Moshe Halpern, sitting next to his brother at the top table with other community leaders, refers obliquely to “graciousness in not responding to people speaking about you”.

Chaim Halpern, 64, also known as Aaron Halpern, who leads the nearby Divrei Chaim synagogue, was the subject of a police investigation into sexual assault a decade ago and is currently facing a rabbinical inquiry into his conduct.

Halpern has regularly involved in providing counselling to women in London’s ultra-orthodox Charedi community. But last year a 21-year-old woman who went to him for help branded him “dangerous and sick”, claiming he used his position to groom and assault her.

The unnamed woman went on television in Israel to accuse Halpern of assaulting her — touching her “private parts” — when she went to him for spiritual guidance. She said he was “evil and must be stopped”.

She later told the JC: “The truth is overdue. Reb Chaim thinks that because he’s a rabbi, he can do whatever he wishes. “He tricked me into trusting him by acting charming, giving attention and compliments. He invests time into phone calls and emails, but it’s all just grooming.”

Reacting to the allegations, Chief Rabbi Mirvis said: “Allegations of serious sexual abuse by a rabbi in London highlight the extent to which abusers can manipulate a culture of respect to serve their own depraved criminality.

“For a rabbi to hold private meetings with women behind closed doors is a transgression of halachah and creates an environment in which abuse can take place. I urge victims and anyone aware of abuse to report it without hesitation.”

At the end of last month, Hackney Council’s education chief took the extraordinary step of sending a letter to headteachers and community children’s group leaders “strongly advising” them to keep children in their care away from the rabbi due to the “very serious” claims against him.

Referring to the ongoing inquiry into his conduct by the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (UOHC), which oversees his synagogue, Paul Senior, the council’s interim education director, wrote: “Whilst this investigation continues we would strongly advise you not to refer any children in your care to Chaim Halpern, and to ensure that the parents, carers and families of your children are also made aware of this situation.”

He added: “As a local authority, having been made aware of these concerns, we felt it was important to ensure that you too had sight of them.”

In 2012, Halpern had been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault but the case was dropped due to insufficient evidence following a nine-month probe.

As the JC has revealed, despite the claims, Halpern is a member of the board which runs a number of schools in north London.

Halpern has been previously listed as a “rabbinical adviser” to the group of schools.

Halpern has given counselling to the victims of rape and sexual assault in his community, including a young woman, who told the JC that after she was assaulted from the age of 13, she was offered cash on behalf of her abuser by two rabbis, including Halpern, to whom she was sent for guidance. She added: “There will be dozens and dozens of girls and women like me who have been through this process with Rabbi Halpern.”

The woman said she was sent to Rabbi Halpern in 2011, about a year before he was accused of the sexual assault.

Halpern, she said, acted as a form of “mediator” between her abuser and herself.

Halpern denies all allegations. Asked about his client’s involvement in the Purim event, the rabbi’s solicitor, David Sonn, refused to comment.


Garnel Ironheart said...

I don't get it. Tznius! Tznius! Tznius! No mingling of men and women! Separate buses! Why is the kallah even invited to the chasunah? And yet men are allowed to counsel women privately and when we suggest that women be trained to give guidance on niddah issues we're told "Oh no! That's assur!"

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Halpern crime family festival.
Oilom, Goilom.

Anonymous said...

He's a disgusting pervert and this has been going on under the noses of the OU for years.
The leaders we have are protectors of abusers and add to the pain of victims.
Disgusting humans...let along rabbonim.