The London Rabbi worked to end community segregation

LONDON (AP) – Rabbi Everholm Pinter laid down his life to save his neighbors.

When the British government ordered the spread of coronaviruses to slow down, Pinter went door-to-door in northeast London to give a public health warning to ultra-Orthodox Jews in his community. In a few days, the 71-year-old rabbi caught COVID-19 and died.

His sacrifice was the last chapter of a life spent building relations between Stamford Hill and the often isolated community in wider British society, whether by working with an English priest to build a community center or killing a gunman 51 Muslims in New Zealand to visit the local mosque.

“He served as a bridge in a broader sense, च said Chaya Spitz, a specialty of Pinter and the CEO of an umbrella organization for Orthodox Jewish charitables.” What he did around COVID was generally his approach Was specific to. ”


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of an ongoing series of stories that recall people from around the world dying of coronaviruses.


The path to becoming a respected rabbi by non-Jews was not easy for a man raised in Stamford Hill in the 1950s and 60s.

Europe’s largest ultra-orthodox community was founded by Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia, and it grew with the addition of those who escaped from the Nazis of Germany during World War II. The experience of anti-Semitism left many Stamford Hill residents skeptical of the right: they paid taxes but asked for nothing in return.

Pinter believed that total self-isolation was a mistake, especially when it came to education.

He became active in the community, woke up in politics and won a seat on the Local Government Council in 1982 as a member of the Labor Party.

But his business was improving educational opportunities for Orthodox Jewish girls. Pinter and his wife, Rachel, were instrumental in the construction of the Yasodeya Hetora Senior Girls’ School. He was the principal and set the educational trends, introducing the concept of students sitting for a wide range of advanced exams and striving for excellence.

He saw an opportunity when Tony Blair of Labour became Prime Minister in 1997. Pinter decided to apply for government funding for his school, even if it meant Yasodi Hotorah would have to follow the national curriculum.

Pinter roamed the streets and posters called him a traitor despite winning £ 14 million to build a state of the art high school.

Simeon Cohen, a longtime friend of the rabbi, said, “For many in the Orthodox community, this was the beginning of the end – we have now incorporated the state into our children’s education.” “It was going to be a disaster.”

The disagreement still continues.

The most recent report by the UK’s Office for Standards in Education rated Yasodi Hatorah students above average in the subjects they study, but the school is considered “inadequate” because the curriculum is too narrow.

For example, students are not taught about human reproduction because the conservative community believes the subject is best at home.

Critic showed Pinter’s dilemma. While some in his Jewish community considered him a dangerous modernist, many in the wider society saw him as an insane extremist, Cohen said.

“But he left with a bright smile, saying that he must have been doing something right,” he said with a bright smile. “We have a phrase – ‘I dance at everyone’s wedding.” He managed to navigate all communities. This was their greatness. ”

Pinter found common ground with local Muslim leaders, with them to ensure that the food served in local hospitals and jails met strict kosher and halal rules of their beliefs.

And when the fighting in Syria sent refugees across Europe in 2016, Pinter joined a group of faith leaders on a fact-finding mission to a makeshift refugee camp in Calais, northern France.

After seeing the situation for himself, Pinter went back to London and raised 5,000 pounds ($ 6,500) for the migrants. Their faith did not matter. His humanity did.

“His ability to show how much attention he paid was remarkable,” said Mustafa Field, director of Faith’s Forum in London. “His ability to sit in a tent with refugees – it was not a clean place. But he was able to connect with that level and listen. ‘

And he did so by holding fast to his identity as an Orthodox Jew.

He wore a bra-brimmed hat, black coat and beard as decided by the ultra-Orthodox. He called on people for tea, but to ensure that they brought their own teabags to be kept strictly. And when Prime Minister Theresa May extended her hand in greeting, she whipped her hat, held it in both hands and joked about her “strange monastic order”, so as not to shake hands and embarrass her.

While on these outreach missions in later years, Pinter often discussed how he grieved for his wife, who died in 2014. He decided to read the entire Talmud in her memory and believed he could see her again after his death, according to friend Maurice Glassman, a member of Britain’s House of Lords.

“When I died I thought, ‘He’s Rabbi Pinter, at least he can look at his wife and say he did his homework,” Gleisman said.

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