IRAC, Abraham Fund Call for Charges Against Safed Rabbi


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two Israeli groups with U.S. affiliates called for the criminal investigation of a municipal rabbi who asked Jews not to rent apartments to non-Jews.

The Israel Religious Action Center, an affiliate of the Reform movement, and the Abraham Fund, a group that promotes Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel and that has a U.S. office, this week sent separate letters to Israel’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein calling on him to launch a criminal incitement probe of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed, Ha’aretz reported.

Eliyahu last week joined a call to keep Arabs out of Safed that was apparently prompted by fears that a medical school slated to open in the northern city will lead to an influx of non-Jews.

Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu, the co-executive director of the Abraham Fund, told JTA that his group sent a letter to Weinstein and also sent a letter to the civil service chief, Shmuel Hollander, demanding an investigation that could lead to Eliyahu’s dismissal.

"He’s a state worker, a member of the chief rabbinate and a member of the municipal rabbinate," Be’eri-Sulitzeanu told JTA. "He can’t express himself in a racist way. We want him fired."

Ami Nahshon, the fund’s president based in New York, said he, too, backed the letters.

Spokesmen for the Religious Action Center, the Washington D.C.-based sister to IRAC, did not return calls Friday