Daily Israel Report

Top Hareidi Rabbi Bans Arab Labor Following Merkaz HaRav Attack

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a top Hareidi-Religious Torah sage, has issued a Jewish legal ruling banning the employment of Arab workers.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 3/16/2008, 11:49 AM

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, considered a top Torah sage of the generation in the hareidi-religious community, issued a Jewish legal decision banning the employment of Arab workers by Jews according to the Yom Chadash daily.

The rabbi issued the decision at a meeting with several administrators of yeshivas (seminaries) in B’nei Brak. The administrators each employ an older Arab man who they do not suspect of any involvement in terrorism. The administrators decided, nonetheless to seek halachic (Jewish legal) guidance following reports that the terrorist who carried out the massacre at Jerusalem’s Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva had been hired as a driver on occasion.

“According to Jewish law, it is completely forbidden to hire Arabs, especially in yeshivas,” Rabbi Kanievsky said. “There is a concern of endangering lives.”

The rabbi continued, explaining, “After all, we are at war with them…and are there not Jews that can work and make a living?”

Asked later if his words should be publicized, Rabbi Kanievsky said: “Certainly,” according to the News First Class site.

Rabbi Kanievsky went even further, saying that Jews should refrain from employing any non-Jews, not just Muslim Arabs, and instead grant livelihood to Jews, unless there exists a huge disparity between the labor costs.

The rabbi's family told Arutz-7 that the Yom Chadash report is 100% accurate and explained that "although there can be financial justification for hiring foreign workers, G-d forbid should we hire Arabs. We are at war with them."

Rabbi Kanievsky is one of the most recognized authorities in hareidi-religious society. He is the son of the Steipler Rebbe, Rabbi Yisrael Yaakov Kanievsky, and the son-in-law of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the leader of Lithuanian Hareidi Jewry.

Jewish Labor Hotline Set Up
For several years, a revival of the concept of Avoda Ivrit – Jewish labor – has been taking place in the Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria regions – particularly in hilltop communities. The concept was touted by Labor Zionists in the pre- and early state eras as an important Jewish and Zionist value in reconnecting to the land and being truly independent. Though a web site listing Jewish labor businesses was closed down by the supreme court after a law-suit from an Arab advocacy group funded by the New Israel Fund, a new hotline and email account has been set up to provide Avoda Ivrit solutions.

The hotline allows consumers to receive a list of businesses in a particular field that only use Jewish workers. People are also encouraged to submit the names of such businesses to the hotline.

The hotline, for everything from gardeners, heavy equipment operators, painters, cement mixers and handymen to catering and restaurants, can be reached at: 1 599 588 588 or by emailing: mokedai@gmail.com . To reach a human hotline operator, dial extension 1, Sunday through Thursday, 8am-1pm.

An Avoda Ivrit blog also exists to promote Jewish labor.