Community leaders this week stressed that a ‘rabbi’ in the UK who lives with seven so-called ‘wives’ had nothing to do with ‘contemporary Jewish custom and practice’.
Philip Sharp’s extraordinary lifestyle was splashed all over the media in recent days as a BBC TV documentary exposed his bizarre family set-up.
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Historic Ceremony Marks Yom Hashoah The 45-year-old who was once a DJ on the Jewish party circuit and who is variously described as a ‘rabbi’ and a ‘former rabbi’, claimed: “Six years ago I had an incredible visitation of God who began to speak to me in a way he’d never spoken to me before. I began to see things I knew hadn’t been seen for centuries. He added: “God would give me revelations and would talk to me about my role in the restoration of the true nation of Israel as a prophet.”Among the instructions Sharp was given was that he should live like a biblical king, taking several wives“This is about true biblical covenant”, he said, “and it’s very, very beautiful.”And while he didn’t sport a kippah, the programme showed Sharp wearing tsitsit, making Kiddush, blowing the shofar and quoting from the Torah. The various women in his life, meanwhile, who have names like Chava and Hannah, kept their hair covered and wore Stars of David around their necks.And though the documentary talks of Sharp preaching at synagogues and of his wives, who have distinctly Jewish names, ‘embracing Judaism’, it only mentions briefly that he was actually a ‘messianic rabbi’. According to the narrator: “He met his wives when they joined his congregation in Hove. When he became a king, the community were outraged and status as rabbi was revoked.”Expressing their concern over the depiction of Sharp’s lifestyle, the Board of Deptuies issued a statement in which they said: “As far as The Board is aware Philip Sharp has no recognised rabbinical training or ordination, and therefore no right to be called rabbi. His lifestyle, with multiple female partners, is inconsistent with contemporary Jewish custom and practice kippot.”The British Jewish Community does not regard messianic groups, such as Jews for Jesus, and Sharp’s Shema Israel congregation as Jewish. They play no part in organised Jewish life in this country.Readers of the various articles should not mistakenly believe that the practices and lifestyle described are part of the Jewish religion.”