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Police: Rabbi Not Homophobic

Police: Rabbi Not Homophobic

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A rabbi accused of making homophobic remarks in a sermon and an e-mail will retain his position as chaplain for a Toronto-area police force, the JTA news service reports.

Kulanu Toronto, an LGBT Jewish group, had filed a complaint about Rabbi Mendel Kaplan (pictured, left), the Jewish chaplain for the York regional police, after he objected to Kulanu's call for both gay and straight Jews to march in last summer's Toronto pride parade to show support for Israel, in response to another gay group protesting some of the nation's policies. Kulanu urged police chief Armand La Barge (right) to remove Kaplan from his chaplaincy.

Kulanu executive director Justine Apple told Canadian gay newspaper Xtra! that in his sermon, Kaplan referred to gays as "an abomination." Also, in an e-mail to Bernie Farber, CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, which joined in Kulanu's call for marchers, Kaplan wrote, "You shamefully called upon the community ... to participate in the celebration of what our Holy Torah makes a point of calling To'eva," which translates as "abomination," Xtra! reports.

In a letter to Kulanu last month, however, officials with the York police said they concluded after an internal investigation that Kaplan's statements were a "technically correct interpretation of scripture through his role as a rabbi" and "were not viewed as hateful," JTA reports. Apple said she was disappointed with the decision and plans to seek an apology from Kaplan.

Kaplan is a rabbi in the Chabad Lubavitch movement, often viewed as part of Orthodox Judaism, although Chabad leaders reject the division of Judaism into Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform segments.

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