Scrap Jerry Springer invitation, say rabbis

Rabbis have criticised a leading Jewish charity for inviting Jerry Springer, the American television presenter, to be the guest speaker at its annual fundraising dinner next week. By Stephen Bates.

Rabbis have criticised a leading Jewish charity for inviting Jerry Springer, the American television presenter, to be the guest speaker at its annual fundraising dinner next week. They say he undermines society with his confessional show.

The move to get Springer - who was born in Britain and whose parents fled Nazism - disinvited from the dinner, organised by the United Jewish Israel Appeal, follows complaints by conservative Christian groups a fortnight ago about the BBC's broadcast of the opera based on his show.

Rabbi Shlomo Levin, the minister of the South Hampstead Synagogue in London, is quoted in today's Jewish Chronicle as having told his congregation that inviting Springer was the wrong way for the charity to sell tickets. He said the show was a kind of pornography, and the charity might as well have considered a lap-dancing evening.

"When we reach the point that a person like Jerry Springer is the speaker it is time to stop and ask ourselves what has gone wrong," he said.

"Charities need to be very careful about the appropriateness of their speaker. I don't think Jerry Springer's public persona stands for anything which is wholesome in society."

Rabbi Levin also criticised the charity Jewish Care for using non-kosher caterers for its fundraising events.

The tickets for next week's dinner for 700 are expected to sell out.

Another rabbi, Yitzchak Schochet, of the Mill Hill Synagogue, told the paper: "It remains incumbent upon the heads of Jewish organisations to always maintain the moral high ground, however trendy or fashionable certain fund-raising alternatives might be."

The chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, is the charity's honourary president. He will not be attending the event, though his office said he had decided not to go before the identity of the guest speaker was known.

The charity said: "We've invited Jerry Springer as a deep-thinking British-born Jew. It is timely that he is here two days before Holocaust Memorial Day, since he is a child of Holocaust survivors."


Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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