5 shocking quotes by Israel’s chief rabbis
Menu JTA Search

5 shocking quotes by Israel’s chief rabbis

Israel's Chief Sephardi rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef, center, attending a competition on the Jewish Sabbath laws, Jan. 12, 2016. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

Israel’s Chief Sephardi rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef, center, attending a competition on the Jewish Sabbath laws, Jan. 12, 2016. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

(JTA) — Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi said Saturday that non-Jews who don’t accept Judaism’s basic laws for humanity should be expelled from Israel and sent to Saudi Arabia. But Jews will hold off on doing that until the messianic age because in the meantime Israel needs non-Jews as servants.

“Who will be the servers? Who will be our assistants?” Yitzhak Yosef said. “Therefore, we leave them here in the land.”

Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, David Lau, last year said it was unacceptable for Israel’s education minister to visit a Conservative Jewish day school.

David Lau, Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, speaking to children about the Kristallnacht pogroms at the Or Avner traditional Jewish school in Berlin, Germany, Nov. 8, 2013. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

David Lau, Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, speaking to children about the Kristallnacht pogroms at the Or Avner traditional Jewish school in Berlin, Germany, Nov. 8, 2013. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

“To speak deliberately with a specific community and to recognize it and its path, when this path distances Jews from the path of the Jewish people, this is forbidden,” Lau said after Naftali Bennett visited a Solomon Schechter school in New York in 2015.

Lau previously referred derogatorily to blacks at the dawn of his 10-year term, exhorting Jews to spend time learning Torah instead of watching basketball games.

“Why do you care about whether the ‘kushim’ who get paid in Tel Aviv beat the kushim who get paid in Greece?” Kushim is a Hebrew slur for blacks,” Lau said in July 2013. 

Former Israeli chief rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, who died in 2013, said in 2005 that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment to the “godless” people of New Orleans.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef died in Jerusalem on Oct. 07, 2013. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90.)

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef died in Jerusalem on Oct. 07, 2013. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90.)

“Hundreds of thousands remained homeless. Tens of thousands have been killed. All of this because they have no God,” he said, adding that the hurricane was God’s way of punishing President George W. Bush for his support of Israel’s evacuation that year of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.

In 2007, Yosef stirred controversy for comments about women.

A woman’s knowledge is only in sewing,” he said. “Women should find other jobs and make chulent but not deal with matters of Torah.”

In a non-verbal rabbinic controversy, former Israeli Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger is under indictment for fraud, bribery, theft, money laundering, income tax violations, breach of trust and conspiracy. Metzger, who was arrested in 2013 as his 10-year term of chief rabbi was ending and was indicted in 2015, is suspected of accepting some $2.6 million in bribes. Israel’s attorney general also has accused Metzger of attempting to silence witnesses and interfering with the investigation into his alleged crimes.