Activists protest Jerusalem chief rabbi over homosexuality remarks

Marcy Oster

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Activists hung a gay pride flag outside the offices of the Jerusalem Chief Rabbinate and later protested in front of the building in response to Jerusalem Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar calling homosexuality an “abomination” in an interview.

The rainbow flag was hung overnight Saturday and a rainbow was drawn in chalk on the street in front of the entrance to the building. Police were investigating the incident.

On Sunday afternoon, protesters gathered in front of the downtown Jerusalem building.

Amar made the statements in an interview published Friday in Israel Hayom.


“I call on them, in warm and friendly language, to leave their bad path. The Torah has forbidden it [homosexuality] and calls it an abomination,” Amar said. “It is a cult of abomination. It is clear that it is abomination. The Torah punishes it with death.”

“There is no such thing as having understanding or tolerance for this,” Amar said.

Amar said he turned down an invitation to attend a memorial service for Shira Banki, 16, who was stabbed to death during 2015’s Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem by a haredi Orthodox attacker, after her family refused to read aloud a condemnation of homosexuality.

Amar formerly served as Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, a position known as the Rishon LeTzion.

Amar also spoke out about Reform Judaism, expressing frustration over the plans to create an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall and calling Reform Jews “evil.”

“There aren’t many Reform in Israel,” Amar said. “In recent years they have been importing it, this culture. What they are doing is incitement. It is not a matter of personal distress; it’s politics. I try to speak kindly, but I will not refrain from talking about Reform [Jews] or the abomination. I will not change what is written in the Torah,” he said.

Following their publication in Israel Hayom, Amar’s remarks faced a wave of condemnation from political and religious figures throughout the country. At least two people filed complaints with police over Amar’s comments, calling then incitement to murder against homosexuals.

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