Amsterdam’s Chief Rabbi Suspended After Endorsing Anti-Gay Doc

The chief rabbi of Amsterdam’s Orthodox Jewish community, Aryeh Ralbag (right), was suspended from his post Tuesday evening following the outrage that erupted when he co-signed a declaration calling homosexuality “not an acceptable lifestyle or a genuine identity” and claiming that same-sex attractions “can be modified and healed.”

Ralbag was chosen in 2005 as the leader of Amsterdam’s vibrant and relatively liberal Orthodox community despite being born in the U.S. and living in New York City. (He reportedly visits the Netherlands just a few times a year).

He’s also one of 180 (predominantly American) Orthodox and Hasidic rabbis and community leaders to have signed the homophobic Declaration On The Torah Approach To Homosexuality, released at the end of December.

The document, in part, reads:

The Torah makes a clear statement that homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle or a genuine identity by severely prohibiting its conduct. Furthermore, the Torah, ever prescient about negative secular influences, warns us in Vayikra (Leviticus) 20:23 “Do not follow the traditions of the nations that I expel from before you…” Particularly the Torah writes this in regards to homosexuality and other forbidden sexual liaisons…

We emphatically reject the notion that a homosexually inclined person cannot overcome his or her inclination and desire. Behaviors are changeable. The Torah does not forbid something which is impossible to avoid. Abandoning people to lifelong loneliness and despair by denying all hope of overcoming and healing their same-sex attraction is heartlessly cruel.

The chair of the Jewish Community of Amsterdam (NIHS), Ronnie Eisenman, expressed deep regret that Ralbag’s autograph might imply that NIHS also endorses the anti-gay manifesto.

“Rabbi Ralbag’s signature may give the impression the Orthodox Jewish community of Amsterdam shares his view,” said Eisenman in a press release. “This is absolutely untrue. Homosexuals are welcome at the Amsterdam Jewish community.”

NIHS’s executive committee has relieved Ralbag of his duties until he can travel to Holland to discuss the matter further.

Yesterday, Esther Voet, former editor-in-chief of the Dutch Jewish weekly Nieuw Israëlietisch Weekblad, called on Ralbag to completely step down from his position.

“The Dutch Jewish neshoma [soul] is unique,” said Voet. “We need a chief rabbi who is aware of our traditions, and that’s something you cannot fly in two times a year [to learn].”

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  • Snownova

    My compliments to the Dutch Jewish community for their swift and decisive action in this matter.

  • Darren

    I’m going to eat one of those lobsters the Torah says is a “abomination” tonight in celebration of Rabbi Dirtbag’s suspension. And just to be even more “sinful”, I
    may even have a shrimp
    cocktail as well.

  • Cam

    One thing I find interesting about Queerty is this.

    Jews are the ONLY major organized religion in the U.S. that perform gay marraiges, accept gay rabbis etc…

    The Orthodox section makes up around 5% or so, they are the only group that is less gay friendly.

    No other major religion in the U.S. can say that, not the Catholics, Mormons, Muslims the Episcopalians are actually splitting over the issue, and yet Queerty has run multiple articles on Orthodox rabbis being anti gay, but we have not seen even close to the same number of articles on reps from the other major religions being anti-gay, and we have seen pretty much nothing on the Mormons who are still actively funding NOM and were instrumental in Prop 8 as well as the anti gay bills pushed in Maine and Rhode Island.

    Just curious as to why.

  • Robert in NYC

    I thought the United Church of Christ might be willing to perform same-sex marriages since it supports marriage equality, as do the Quakers??

    What gives these American scumbags the right to agitate and stir up trouble in European affairs? The EU should ban them permanently from their countries as undesirables and a menace to the well-being of their respective societies. American orthodox Jews should know better than anyone about discrimination. Obviously, they’ve learned nothing from the holocaust when a specific group of people is targeted for disenfranchisement.

    To digress, NOM has just pledged $250,000 to defeat Washington State’s marriage equality bill and threatening to unseat any politician in the republican party supporting marriage equality. About time that organization were designated as a hate group.

  • European


    Are you kidding me???

    There are/were plenty of articles on both Catholic and Mormon leaders hating on queers.

    Also Orthodox Judaism is the largest movement worldwide in Judaism … Reform Judaism has yet to take hold as strongly in Europe.

  • Cam

    @European: said…

    Are you kidding me???
    There are/were plenty of articles on both Catholic and Mormon leaders hating on queers.
    Also Orthodox Judaism is the largest movement worldwide in Judaism … Reform Judaism has yet to take hold as strongly in Europe.”

    You are completely lying. There are approximately 16 million Jews worldwide.

    “The present estimate for Orthodox Jews in Isreal is between 900 thousand and one million; in North America, between 550-650 thousand;
    and in the rest of the world between 120-150 thousand,
    making for a total of between 1.67-1.8 million

    Orthodox is the SMALLEST movement worldwide, but apparently you have some reason to lie about that.

    As for plenty of articles about the Mormons etc… actually no there havent. Although financially through their cinancial support of Prop 8 and NOM they are the largest religious threat to gay rights laws in America there have not been any specific articles about the Mormons on Queerty in months, while there have been multiple ones about Orthodox Rabbis who represent a minute fraction of people, especially when compared to the number of Mormons in the U.S.

  • Destroyer

    @Darren: Don’t do it!!! Please!!!! You can stop your urges. We believe you can, therefore if you eat it you are an abomination.

  • CBRad

    @Cam: I think Queerty is nothing but agenda-driven but, to be fair, I think you’re mistaken suggesting there’s an anti-Jew thing going on. They go by the gay-transplant-to-NYC Rules, which is anti-Catholic, anti-Mormon, anti-Israel, anti-Texas….etc..but certainly not anti-Jewish. That’s going by the majority of articles here.

  • CBRad

    And, yes, Jews (vast and varied) are certainly a way more gay-friendly religion/ethnicity than not, but….that doesn’t really make news. Homophobes, even Jewish ones, make news on these blogs.

  • Cam

    @CBRad: Hey Brad,

    I would agree except that I remember posting in every article on NOM on here asking why they weren’t mentioning the Mormon connection to them. Never got an answer. Why they weren’t asking about the Mormon connection to the situations in Maine and RI etc…

    I don’t necessarily think it’s an anti-Jewish thing. I just remember when the Mormon Church tried to purchase ads on Queerty to stem the unflattering articles the old owners used to post. Now suddenly we see nothing really about the Mormons anymore. Just seemed weird to me.

  • CBRad

    @Cam: …okay….well….it doesn’t hurt to always stay observant with blogs.

  • European


    Wow you need to chill out! Lying ? Maybe misinformed but I am not willfully hiding or distorting the truth.

    From the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:

    “However, if there are as many as 9.5 million religiously identifiable Jews, 5.5 million of these identify with Orthodoxy whatever their level of personal observance, giving the latter a 40 percent margin. Many in both groups are nominal in their commitment. Indeed, when nominal observance is factored out, the strength of Orthodoxy is even greater”

    Also what reason could I possibly have to lie about that ?

  • Cam


    Wow, not only did you link to a page that is siting studies done in 1970…but you also seem to have left out the part that actually dealt with the issue. You know, the part that said…

    ” According to the best available studies, up to 25 percent, in Isreal consider themselves orthodox in Isreal.”

    So even in the area where Jewish tradition is strongest…and even decades ago they could only claim at most 25%. That number has plummeted in Isreal and the rest of the world since the 1970’s

    But again, you must have really had to reach to find that page.

  • WillBFair

    @Cam: I think this blog gets revenue from commercial sources. When that’s the case, editorial decisions are hard to track. Who knows if one of the travel companies advertised here has Mormon connections.
    It could be just an editorial oversite. Or maybe they don’t want to go the way of JMG, which is all anti gay religion all the time.
    On another matter, thanks for engaging the sociopath on the porn thread. They have been given a free ride by this community for so long that they’re free to spit their bile whenever they want. I no longer have the heart to engage them. But it’s important to argue with them so that people with low self esteem see all sides. You did a good job, although you were a lot more polite than I could be.
    Finally, cudos. You might be the most common sensible person here, and it’s often a pleasure to read your postings.

  • European


    It also says:

    “These figures suggest that, as opposed to the popular image of a tiny embattled minority seeking to impose its will on the vast majority of world Jewry (the usual figures given are 15 percent versus 85 percent), Orthodox Judaism commands the allegiance of between 33 to 45 percent of all the Jews in the world and 50 to 70 percent of those who identify as religious in some way. Conversely, the non-Orthodox religious movements account for no more than one third of world Jewry and possibly as little as 25 percent. ”


    “Hence, if Orthodox claims are strong, it is not only because they control all of the religious establishment outside of the United States by law or weight of tradition, but because they have the numerical strength to retain that control. It is no wonder, then, that Orthodoxy remains the dominant voice on the “Who is a Jew?” and other such issues and claims the lion’s share of Jewish public money devoted to religious purposes.””

    Lastly I am more willing to believe an authority like Daniel J. Elazar rather than some random poster on the inter-webz. Peace out!

  • WillBFair

    @European: I’m too lazy to research the issue. But I had always heard that the US has more Jews than Isael, and that the vast majority of them are strong liberals.

  • Geraldo

    @Cam, you need to be a little less sensitive about protecting the image of homophobic Judaism, and join the rest of the community in condemning homophobia whereever it rears its ugly head. Maybe it would be easier for you if you just pretend Chief Rabbi Ratbag is a Catholic Bishop.

  • hyhybt

    There have been lots of articles about Mormons begin anti-gay. You may have happened not to see them, of course, but they’ve been here. Especially during the Prop 8 business. Go and look through the archives if you don’t believe it.

  • Carl

    It’s refreshing to see a religious community that takes fast and decisive action in regards to homophobia. Lets hope that this kind of attitude contains to be seen.

  • Cam


    That was under the old ownership.

  • Cam


    So you are just ignoring the part of my post where I point out that this is a post referencing studies done in 1970…AND you ignore the part where the numbers are untrue?

    You are WAAAAAAY too invested in this falsehood for it to be coincidence. You are obviously a bigot.

    If somebody came on here saying that a huge majority of American Catholics agreed with the Vatican I would say the same thing to them.

  • hyhybt

    @Cam: Sorry, I seem to have missed where you specified the new ownership, particularly before calling another poster a liar.

    Still… they post what’s news today. Mormon opposition to gay marriage is in no way news for January 18, 2012. Nor Catholic, for that matter, and they’ve certainly had articles about Catholics lately. If and when it is again news, I’m quite sure Queerty will have something up about it.



  • hyhybt

    @TASTEY GOODIES: We’re not that different. As I understand it, much of Amsterdam is below sea level. So all they need is a breached dike, and then, like the US, their homes will be underwater.

  • hyhybt

    @hyhybt: Dangit. I hate when facts get in the way of a good joke… or even a mediocre one. Turns out Amsterdam itself *isn’t* below sea level.


  • European

    @No. 16 – I am not disputing that a vast segment of the Jewish population is socially liberal or accepting – although the idea of “liberal” is a rather vague concept when it comes to religion, point in case “Conservative” Judaism allows for the ordination of gay and lesbian Jews as rabbis (as well as women). I should have been more clear on this point.

    Normative terms such as *orthodox* can be misleading, as within the Orthodox community there are many different ways of interpreting the Torah and the Talmud depending on one Rabbi’s, background (Sephardic or Ashkenazi) and on the community you live in (ie Modern Orthodox or Haredi). My building has many frum (observant) families and neither my boyfriend or I have ever had problems – that being said there is relatively little interaction although that goes for all the different religious/ethnic/etc. groups living in our neighborhood.

    The article that I cited concludes by pointing out the weight that Orthodox Judaism carries within the Jewish community because of its continuous observance of Jewish law and the long tradition of and emphasis on Torah scholarship by Orthodox jews.

  • European

    @Cam Also thank you for the friendly tone of your post!

    My comment that “Orthodox Judaism is the largest movement worldwide in Judaism” was misinformed and incorrect, I apologise for that.

  • Octavio

    Getting all defensive about some well-grounded criticism is simply ridiculous, and certainly doesn’t help anybody. I’m glad that the chair of the Jewish Community of Amsterdam didn’t choose to engage in any hair-splitting about the hardly trascurable influence of Orthodox Judaism, and simply stated that “homosexuals are welcome.” That’s all that matters really. As a gay man, and a potential victim, it doesn’t make much difference to me if homophobes don’t quite make up the majority of the demographics within any given religion or sect: even if it’s just a bunch of them spitting on me, it’s already bad enough.

  • MJ

    “He calles him self “RABBI RALBAG” LOL he was never accepted by the Orthodox Jewish Community in Amsterdam mabe as a puppit or rasputin.

    He is Show man with now self respect and he is shame for the whole Jewish world especially for the NIHS.

    He was never accepted by the beloved Rabbi Just: neither by any other autority in The Orthodox jewish community.

    I was a member of the community many years ago: (when RALBAG) sorry but he is not a Rabbi
    was suppossed to be a Rabbi. Shame on you RALBAG!!!!!!!!!

    Please to one good thing in your life: stay where you are and don’t return to Amsterdam!



  • AS



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