Israeli rabbi bans renting apartments to lesbian couples

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Jewish law prohibits renting apartments to lesbian couples, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, chief rabbi of Ramat Gan, announced on his website.

The rabbi was responding to a Jewish legal question submitted online by a resident of the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, according to Ynet News. Ariel responded that he could rent to one member of the lesbian couple but not both, and should rent to someone else if possible.

In response to Ariel’s statement, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni called for passing an amendment to a law that would criminalize housing discrimination with a six-month prison term.

“The housing issue is not included in the Prohibition of Discrimination Law,” said Livni, according to Ynet News. “But a reality where rabbis urge people not to lease apartments to non-Jewish residents or members of the gay community requires us to respond and make it clear that any type of discrimination, including in housing, is a criminal offense and a civil injustice.”

In a separate incident, the Jerusalem District Court ruled recently that Jerusalem Rabbi Isser Klonsky must apologize and pay $17,000 in damages to a yoga instructor he outed as a lesbian, Haaretz reported. Klonsky discouraged congregants from taking her classes, which, the court ruled, damaged her livelihood.

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