18 November 2010 0 Comments

Israel’s public rabbis court controversy

Israel’s holy men have long had a reputation for an approach toward the society around them that is, shall we say, considerably less conciliatory and compassionate than the Dalai Lama. Lately the country’s rabbis appear to be taking it to a new grade of nastiness.

A judge on the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court, Dov Domb, joined other rabbis this week in signing an open letter urging sanctions against people in the largely ultra-Orthodox town of Bnei Brak who rent apartments to foreigners.

It isn’t that Israelis are so shocked by the idea that a rabbi would hold conservative ideas. After all, one of the country’s most prominent rabbis, the Shas Party’s spiritual leader, Ovadia Yossef, once told his followers a man shouldn’t walk in between two women for fear of being turned into a donkey. Rather it’s the expression of such ideas by a man who is on the public payroll that has awakened controversy.

In fact there have been a series of recent cases of rabbis who are also public employees speaking out — perhaps lashing out is a better way to put it — on social and political issues.

Read the rest of this story on Global Post.

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