Rabbis sign petition against religious discrimination

Over 750 signatories from around the world say rabbinic ruling that forbids leasing property to non-Jews "caused great shock and pain."

December 14, 2010 12:43
2 minute read.
RABBI SHMUEL Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed.

Eliyahu 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Hundreds of rabbis from around the world signed a petition eariler this week, criticizing the recent halachic ruling from community rabbis in Israel that forbids leasing property to non-Jews. 

The Rabbis against Religious Discrimination petition has over 750 signatories, stating that the ruling "has caused great shock and pain in our communities.  The attempt to root discriminatory policies based on religion or ethnicity in Torah is a painful distortion of our tradition."

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"Am Yisrael knows the sting of discrimination, and we still bear the scars of hatred. When those who represent the official rabbinic leadership of the State of Israel express such positions, we are distressed by this Chillul HaShem, desecration of God’s name," the petition stated.

The petition further warned that, "many of our congregants love Israel and want nothing more than the safety and security of the Jewish homeland, but for a growing number of Jews in America this relationship to Israel cannot be assumed.

"Statements like these do great damage to our efforts to encourage people to love and support Israel."

According to orthodox Rabbi Asher Lopatin from Chicago, "Jews must be allowed to live all over the Holy Land, and Arabs and other non-Jews must be allowed to live there as well.  To discriminate against citizens of the State of Israel, no matter what their religion or ethnic background, is to lower ourselves to forms of hatred and intolerance which we have fought in the past in the Diaspora and which we must continue to fight to maintain our integrity as Jews.

"Those who live in the Diaspora have no right to sit in judgment of those who are putting their lives at risk every day by living in, and fighting for, the State of Israel.  However, we who live in the Diaspora have the obligation to our brothers and sisters in Israel to tell them how awful and disgusting letters like this sound to Jews and gentiles alike, and to let them know that it is not part of the living Jewish tradition through which we live our lives," he added.

This petition is the latest in a line of criticism against the ruling;  235 Israeli academics also sent a letter in protest to Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu for his ruling and Minorities Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman called for Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman to immediately suspend Eliyahu, last month.

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