Satmar rabbi asks Obama to aid Yemeni Jews

NEW YORK (JTA) — A leading Satmar rabbi called on President Obama to assist the Yemeni Jewish community.

At a fund-raiser for Torah study last week, Rabbi Aron Teitelbaum, the head of the Chasidic sect in Kiryas Joel, N.Y., made reference to the recent difficulties of the Yemeni Jews, according to Yeshiva World News. In recent months the community has experienced the murder of one of its prominent members, as well as an increase in verbal and physical abuse that escalated during Israel’s military operation in Gaza.

Teitelbaum reminded the gathering of the impotence of American Jews to rescue Hungarian Jews during World War II, and he was quoted as saying that the Yemeni Jews’ predicament differed because "today we can save them and we must do so."

The Satmar leader not only beseeched Obama, in his talk and in a letter, and American Jews to get involved, but made the request to British Jewry as well. His reasoning was that immigration restrictions are a little tighter in the United States following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Teitelbaum did not mention Israel, where 50,000 Yemeni Jews immigrated in 1949 and 1950 as part of Operation Magic Carpet. Critics accuse the Satmar community of dissuading the remaining Yemeni Jews, whose population hovers just above 300, from moving to Israel.

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