Incoming Knesset member who said women’s immodesty causes breast cancer and miscarriages resigns after outcry

Rabbi Baruch Gazahay of the Shas Party in an election campaign poster. (Facebook) 

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An incoming member of the Knesset from the Sephardic Orthodox Shas party resigned his candidacy after coming under fire for public lectures that demeaned women.

Rabbi Baruch Gazahay, who had been poised to enter the Israeli parliament on Tuesday, announced late that day that he would remove himself from the party’s list.

Gazahay said in a lecture recorded in 2016 that “A woman who was used to revealing her upper parts usually is reincarnated as a cow, whose upper parts are exposed.”

He also said regarding modesty for women: “That is why women have to be covered up there. This is one of the reasons women suffer from breast cancer, because everyone looks at them and it causes the evil eye. It is also one of the reasons why women – God forbid – have miscarriages. They post pictures of themselves on Facebook showing their exposed bellies.”

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Gazahay’s YouTube channel features many videos that criticize or mock women up to 2019, The Times of Israel reported.

Gazahay, 38, heads a Beersheba yeshiva. He was born in Ethiopia but arrived in Israel as a baby, the Kan public broadcaster reported. He became religiously observant as an adult.

Shas party head Aryeh Deri said earlier Tuesday that he had spoken to Gazahay and “made it clear that these remarks are unacceptable and do not represent the Shas movement, and Rabbi Gazahay understood this.” Deri also said that Gazahay said the quoted remarks were just a few sentences out of hours of lectures and were taken out of context.