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UK rabbi draws backlash for setting fire to Bible on Passover eve

(YouTube/shneur odze)Shneur Odze appears in a screen capture of a video from his YouTube channel.

A high-profile rabbi in Britain has caught controversy after he burned a Bible on the eve of Passover and posted a photo of it on social media.

Shneur Odze, a 33-year-old Orthodox Jewish rabbi, was infuriated when he found a religious tract that was purported to be a Jewish bible in his synagogue last Sunday.

Believing that the book was placed in the synagogue by a proselytizing religious sect, he took it out into the street and set it on fire, The Daily Mail reported.

"Grateful to whoever put a missionary bible amongst our synagogue's books. Was wondering what I'd burn my Chametz with," Odze tweeted, referring to the leavened bread that Jews destroy on Passover eve.

Odze, who is also running for Mayor of Manchester under the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), noted that the book not only contained the Old Testament but also the Christian New Testament.

He believed that it was produced by "an extreme proselytising Christian sect of former Jews trying to convert practising Jews to a belief in Christ as the prophesied Messiah."

According to Times of Israel, the Hebrew-English Bible was published by the Society for Distributing Hebrew Scriptures and was placed in a local synagogue by a member of the group without permission.

He explained that his only option was to burn the book because he believed that giving it away "would be to compound the fraud," and throwing it would be to "disrespect what is still a religious tract."

"It was no more a bible than a Beano wrapped in the cover of The Mail on Sunday is a newspaper, but I accept that it was unwise to post the pictures," he said.

The rabbi has since apologized and removed the photo of the burning Bible from Twitter.

"While we understand the act, it was ill-advised to put a picture of it on social media which was also provocative and likely to be misunderstood," a UKIP spokesman said.

Odze, who has served as a councilor in North London for the Conservative Party, is running against former Health Secretary Andy Burnham, who is currently the favorite in the race to become the first Manchester mayor in next month's election.

The rabbi is a confidant of former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, as well as his successor Paul Nutall. Odze stirred up controversy in 2014 when he refused to shake women's hands due to his religious beliefs, which forbids physical contact with any woman other than his wife.

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