Government anti-racism unit head to act against racist rabbis

Appeal made after increasing reports of racism against Ethiopian Jews and their status as Jews being called into question.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel take part in prayer of Sigd holiday
Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel take part in prayer of Sigd holiday
Flash 90

The head of the governmental unit for coordinating the struggle against racism, Attorney Oka (Kobi) Zana, wrote this morning to the head of the Chief Rabbinate Council, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, and requested an immediate meeting of the Chief Rabbinate Council to adopt the ruling of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef that stated the Jews of Ethiopia "are Jews in every respect, and do not need conversion even as a precaution."

The appeal was made because of increasing reports of racism against Ethiopian Jews and their status as Jews being called into question as revealed in a Kann investigation on the Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Gat.

Zana's letter states: "The racism of Rabbi Havlin in Kiryat Gat and the Badatz Eda Haredit in the Barkan Wine Affair exposed a disparaging reality of racist views of rabbis and those providing religious services to Ethiopian Jews. The Chief Rabbinate has to condemn and denounce this as it has in the past. Unfortunately, this time too, as in the case of Badatz Eda Haredit, Rabbi Havlin claims he relies on the instructions and procedures of the Chief Rabbinate to question the status of Jews of Ethiopian descent. The conduct of Rabbi Havlin is similar to the conduct of Badatz Eda Haredit, that was condemned unequivocally for its racist conduct in the past in similar circumstances. In these circumstances, it is appropriate to immediately convene the Chief Rabbinate Council to adopt the clear ruling of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and to order a change in the decision of the Rabbinate Council on the 20th of Cheshvan 5744 that casts sweeping doubt on Ethiopian Jewry."

At the same time, the Unit for Coordinating the Struggle against Racism approached Equal Opportunities Commissioner Miriam Kabha to examine whether the conduct of Rabbi Havlin violated the Equal Employment Opportunities Law.




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