Monday, 27 February 2012

Blood and Property interview with Rabbi Abraham Pinter

Rabbi Abraham (Avraham) Pinter answered a number of questions about the Charedi Community in Stamford Hill and its effect on Hackney.

I have posted/published his answers individually to make it easier to comment on specific topics if you want to.

Rabbi Pinter saw a copy of this transcript before it was published. As such I hope these answers represent his considered views on these topics.

Below is the list of questions he answered. Click on to them to link through to his replies.

Can you calm the fear held by people who live near the community that they will eventually be pushed out of the area?

Do you understand why people are worried about the way the community behaves? 

Do you think the leadership of the Charedi community can be held responsible for any of the current tension? Should they condemn people and institutions who break planning rules?

Do you condone schools for not asking for planning permission?

Do you approve of an English dictionary that doesn’t include words like church, mosque, penis or vagina?

Will you have it in your school?

Last month Cllr Ned Mulready made a statement that argued that the needs of the Charedi community were not needs – but choices made in accordance with their religious beliefs – and argued that this meant the council was not obliged to grant planning permission on these issues. What is your view on his statement?

But do you see religious requirements as a need?

Could the same thing happen in Hackney as has happened in Israel – at least as portrayed in this New York Times article (rising tension between communities/erosion of womens rights)?

Do you see segregated bus services in London?

People see the rise of Charedi values as an erosion of women’s rights. For example the author of the blog If You Tickle us tweeted that no women were allowed on the stage at Yesoday Hatorah school when Michael Gove, the Education Secretary visited. What is your response to this?

I have published the five questions below together:

1. When a community is growing as fast as the Charedi community where does it end?

2. So what is the equilibrium? Basically do you not believe that people can have too many children?

3. Would you ever advise someone not to have too many children?

4. Could society work if we all had this many children?

5. What is the Charedi attitude to contraception?

The answers to the questions below were brief so I lumped them all together.

1. Can you point to a Charedi community which you think Stamford Hill and Hackney Council could use as a good example to follow?

2. Is it correct to say that you take a negative view of Charedim going to university or spending time learning skills that could be used to earn a living?

3. I have been told that college education is encouraged and prevalent in New York and that this is a difference between the London and New York Charedi communities?

4. Do you think that the leaders of the Charedi community are its politicians in the council?

5.  What group are you part of and what are the main groups in the community?


  1. "A price well worth paying." These were the exact words used by Pinter when interviewed for the BBC Radio 4 programme "Beyond Belief" broadcast on 20 September 2010. He was asked whether it was worth charedim forgoing a university education in order to preserve their value system. His answer was that it was "a price well worth paying."

  2. I think this is the one:

    I haven't listened to it yet but will when I get a chance. This relates to the fourth from last question: " Is it correct to say that you take a negative view of Charedim going to university or spending time learning skills that could be used to earn a living?"

  3. Rabbi Pinter emailed both Geoffrey Alderman and me with this reply to GA’s question above:

    Rabbi Pinter: “First let me make it clear though I do change my views and outlooks over time (on occasions even in the same discussion though I do endeavour not to in the same sentence), this is not one of those instances.

    “What I said was: "I have always supported initiatives which would enable members of the charedi community to gain higher education in an environment that respects the community and its values."

    “I am aware that in the New York they are able to achieve that balance.
    In other words the environment is such that they don’t have to compromise on their value system.

    “In the past I have initiated programmes along those lines working together with the London Metropolitan and Middlesex Universities.”

    In a telephone call Rabbi Pinter said he would try and respond to other questions if he has time but may not be able to do so on demand or in all cases…

  4. I think I understand (I am a former Pro-Vice Chancellor of Middlesex University). Presumably these were teacher-training qualifications, where the instruction can be entirely off-campus.

    But in New York charedim actually attend university - e.g. Brooklyn College, Queens College, as well as Yeshiva University and Touro College, and take a variety of programmes, not necessarily career-orientated.

    What I am interested to know is whether Pinter would encourage his pupils to apply for - say - Oxford. If not, why not? What would it be about going to Oxford that he would (I assume) object to?