Jewish Chronicle rows quietly back from claims rabbis’ Corbyn-support letter is fake

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On Monday, the SKWAWKBOX published a letter signed by twenty-nine Orthodox rabbis denouncing ‘irresponsible’ claims that Jews are ‘outraged’ toward ‘respected’ Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn or that Jewish citizens are considering leaving the UK because of him.

The rabbis of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations said that they wished to,

clarify that we have no connection whatsoever with these irresponsible remarks.

The entry of the letter appeared to cause consternation in some circles and various claims were made that the letter was a fake – including an article yesterday in the Jewish Chronicle (JC).

The article originally stated that the letter had been ‘condemned as fake’ and a ‘forgery’, as well as claiming that the UOHC – the rabbis’ umbrella body – had said that it was ‘fake news’.

The article, while acknowledging that the letter had been posted in Orthodox synagogues, also quoted a statement from a ‘nascent’ Jewish community group in London that,

We would like to confirm and clarify this letter is fake and bears no authority from any of the assigned names.

The JC appears to use software to prevent any archiving of its pages. However, a screen capture of the article is below:

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The original Jewish Chronicle article

In the twenty-four hours or so since the original article was published, things appear to have changed considerably – and so has the article, though without any notice that it had been corrected or changed.

It now bears a completely different title:

Organisations distance themselves from ‘letter from Charedi rabbis’ defending Corbyn.

But it also includes a number of other changes compared to the original:

A letter defending Jeremy Corbyn, signed by 28 leading Charedi rabbis, has been circulated in London’s strictly-Orthodox community – although some have argued the rabbis were misled over its content.

The letter, circulated in Hebrew over the High Holy Days, railed against “those who are spreading reports that the Jews in Britain are united against” the Labour leader.

But after it became public, the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (UOHC), an umbrella organisation representing Charedi shuls, distanced itself from the letter.

Three rabbis – Rabbis Eliyakim Schlesinger, Azriel Schechter and Ze’ev Feldman – confirmed to the JC they had signed it, although a senior official at the UOHC described the letter as “fake news”.

Naftoli Friedman, a member of the Charedi community who was involved in acquiring signatories, said the letter was real.

He was speaking after the Jewish Community Council of North London (JCC), a nascent community group based in Stamford Hill, tweeted: “We would like to confirm and clarify this letter is fake and bears no authority from any of the assigned names.”

The SKWAWKBOX spoke to the representative of the well-known Orthodox Jewish group who first provided the letter to this blog and who said,

This is a sad state of affairs and a commentary on the lengths to which some people will go. Of course the letter is genuine.

A PDF of the content of the article as it now stands can be downloaded here.

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