Conservative rabbis: OK to rent, sell homes to non-Jews

“If we are concerned that certain areas need more Jews, we must achieve that by Zionist education, not by discrimination," Rabbi Golinkin.

By JONAH MANDEL
December 21, 2010 05:55
1 minute read.
The east Jerusalem neighborhood Silwan.

311_Silwan houses. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Nearly 50 Conservative (Masorti) rabbis have signed a halachic statement allowing home rentals or sales to non- Jews in Israel, in a move to counter the statement recently signed by nearly 50 city rabbis that prohibited just that.

In a lengthy response to the question of whether the city rabbis’ attitude was “really the standard and only approach to this question in Jewish law,” Schechter Institute President Rabbi Prof. David Golinkin examines the topic from all its angles, from its biblical sources to the opinions of 20th-century rabbis who considered the question.

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In the document, which was released on Monday, Golinkin concludes that “according to Jewish law, it is perfectly permissible to sell or rent houses to non-Jews in the Land of Israel for all of the reasons cited.”

“If we are concerned that certain areas of the country such as the Galilee need more Jews, we must achieve that by Zionist education, not by discrimination,” he added. “If there is concern that blocks of apartments are being bought up by Iran and Saudi Arabia, then the government of Israel must deal with this national problem.”

The rabbis who had signed the original letter had explained that the motivation to their act was the phenomenon Golinkin mentioned.

Nearly 50 Conservative rabbis signed Golinkin’s document.

The haredi rabbinic leadership had spoken out against the original letter, as it might compromise the well-being of Jews in the Diaspora. Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, head of the Har Etzion Yeshiva, bemoaned its tactlessness and failure to address the halachic question at hand with the complexity befitting learned rabbis.

Despite the many demands to launch an investigation on suspicion of incitement to racism, neither the attorney-general nor the justice minister has taken any legal or administrative action against the city rabbis, who are indirectly employed by the state.

In related news, the Brit Hoshech Legaresh (Dispelling Darkness Alliance), representing 16 social and pluralistic groups and dedicated to fighting racism, filled a Jerusalem theater hall on Monday with hundreds of people protesting hatred and racism.


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