Jerusalem’s Chief Rabbi is facing a backlash for calling homosexuality ‘evil’ and ‘an abomination’.
On Friday (18 November), Rabbi Shlomo Amar revealed in an interview he turned down an invitation to a ceremony marking 30 days since the death of Shira Banki.
The young woman was stabbed by Yishai Schlissel at Jerusalem Pride in 2015.
The reason for his refusal to attend were Banki’s parents, who refused to read out a letter in which Amar condemned homosexuality.
‘I wrote them a letter, and I expressed deep sorrow and the most strongly worded opposition to what that man [Yishai Schlissel] did,’ Amar said in an interview Israel Hayom.
‘On the other hand, I call on you, if you want to spiritually lift a person’s soul, to accept the task of repairing your evil ways.
‘This is something that is forbidden by the Torah.
‘I made it a condition for them to read aloud the entirety of the letter. They wanted to read only half.’
In the end, he didn’t attend, but accuses Banki’s parents of taking advantage of the service to ‘increase the LGBTI community’s power’.
‘On the one hand, they are condemning the act of murder, which is completely correct,’ he said.
‘They want to show that everyone is with them, that even rabbis attended.
‘I call on them, in warm and friendly language, to leave their bad path. The Torah has forbidden it and calls it an abomination.’
According to the Rabbi, his attendance would’ve ‘blasphemed the name of God’.
During the interview he also called homosexuality an abomination residing ‘in the first rank of severe offenses’, and a cult.
Amar also said he didn’t want to build bridges with the LGBTI community, even if it estranged secular Jews from religious life.
His comments sparked outrage and Oded Fried, gay rights activists and former head of the Israeli LGBT Taskforce, filed a complaint with Israel Police.
He says Amar’s statements incite bigotry and hatred.
Now activists are under investigation, because they put up a rainbow flag outside his office – and decorated the sidewalk, too.
פעילי תא מרצ באוניברסיטה העברית קישטו את לשכת הרב עמאר בירושלים בדגל הגאווה הלילה ומוסרים לרב: “שיהיה לך שבוע אוהב, גאה ומלא בקבלת האחר” pic.twitter.com/pUJsAMyOux
— מרצ (@meretzparty) November 20, 2016
Meretz, a social-democratic, green, and Zionist party, claimed responsibility in a tweet, saying it was a group of students from Meretz Hebrew University.
In their tweet, they also left a message for Amar, saying they wished him ‘a week of love, pride and full of acceptance of the other’.