Renting To Non-Jews

I think the Torah tradition would be solidly behind the banning rabbis on this one, even though it does not sound democratic.

Much of Arab Israel will not rent to Jews.

Most traditional Jews living anywhere in the world are reluctant to rent or sell a place in their traditional Jewish community (such as Pico-Robertson or Fairfax-La Brea) to non-Jews because that will dilute the Jewish community.

Rabbi Rabbs posts to FB: “The entire Torah is inconsistent with democratic values. He [Bibi] obviously has a problem with Judaism. The Torah has always stated that… it is strictly forbidden to sell one’s home or land in Eretz Yisroel to non-Jews. That obviously doesn’t fit in with secular liberal PC democratic values, and it was never supposed to. Torah is non-apologetically racist and ethnocentric. Get over it, liberals!”

“You don’t see the liberal anti-Jewish Journal quoting rabbis that say the State of Israel’s policies are “inconsistent with Jewish values”. That’s the real story.”

An Orthodox rabbi in Israel tells me:

The position of the 50 rabbis is debatable, it is defensible yet debatable. One can put forth an argument against this position.

It is clearly more of a political stance that a “religious” issue. Will they protest against renting to Russian Jews of “questionable” ancestry – or only Arabs?

The question is not if they are right, the question is if they are smart for making such pronouncements. I think there was probably better ways to make this point – unless this is political posturing by some of these rabbis in order to catapult their position politically, extremism sells.

The only thing sillier than the pronouncement has been some of the responses.

If you believe in property rights, then should not people be allowed to rent to whomever they choose?

I can understand ruling that people should not rent to those in the country illegally (many Africans are in Israel illegally).

Arabs and Africans tend to have different values from Jews, so renting to them dilutes Jewish values in a particular community. It introduces alien practices.

The torah does say that לא תחנם that “you should not give them a place to camp in the land of Israel, because they will be a thorn in your side” but the question is if they already live in Israel what are our obligations to them?

I wonder if any Jewish leaders will be brave or foolish enough to speak out publicly in favor of the ban?

Perhaps this is one of those stories that should not be discussed publicly because it could make non-Jews hate us?

YNETNEWS reports:

The rabbis presented various justifications for the ban, including fears of intermarriage and blasphemy. The statement added that sellers bear responsibility for the physical and spiritual outcomes of their actions.

The document further warned that whoever rents apartments to non-Jews is causing great damage to his neighbors as “their way of life is different than that of the Jews.” Among non-Jews one can also find enemies who may endanger the lives of Jews, the rabbis said.

Their statement suggested there was no difference between a person who rents out an apartment to a non-Jew in Israel and a person who does so within Jewish neighborhoods abroad.

YNETNEWS reports:

Renting out apartments to Arabs has been forbidden by Safed’s rabbis, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has also pointed out that it is forbidden, and many other rabbis remain sheepishly silent on grounds of political correctness and admit that “there is nothing to be done, this is halachic law”.

One person who disagrees with these rabbis is the head of the Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva, Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, who states that “it is right and correct prefer renting out apartments within our own nation, but it is not right to ban renting out apartments to Arabs.”

“From the moment the State of Israel was established, we became responsible not only for the Jews who reside here but for whoever is within Israel’s territory and under its sovereignty.

“This is also the halachic reason for all the rabbinical discussions into the status of a foreigner in Israel during the founding of the State of Israel. Foreigners were given special status that was based on the rights of a citizen with the right to be elected to almost any post in State institutions.”

According to Rabbi Sherlo, this is correct on both a moral-humane plane and the halachic plane: “They are humans and they deserve to be able to make a living with dignity, develop their connection with god and have a roof over their heads like any person in the world.”

The rabbi believes that earning a living, employment, education and a place to live are all part of the human rights of any foreigner living in Israel “and so you can’t decide not to solve everyone’s housing problems, and you especially can’t cut them off from available apartment rentals.”

In an article published in the weekly Maayanei Ha’Yeshuaa which is distributed every Shabbat in synagogues, he explains that: “Jewish sovereignty cannot exist without caring for foreigners who live among us when it comes to housing and employment.

JTA reports:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blasted a ruling by dozens of Israel’s municipal chief rabbis that forbids renting homes to gentiles, and more specifically to Arabs.

Netanyahu said the ruling, which became public Tuesday, was inconsistent with democratic values.

The ruling comes less than two months after leading rabbis in Safed signed on to a letter drafted by the city’s chief rabbi calling on Jews not to rent to non-Jews in the northern Israeli city, as well as a month after rabbis in the haredi Orthodox Israeli city of Bnei Brak issued a religious ruling forbidding residents to rent apartments to African refugees, echoing a similar ruling for southern Tel Aviv.

“How would we feel if someone said not to sell apartments to Jews?” The Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu as saying Tuesday evening at a Bible contest. “We would protest, and we do protest when it is said among our neighbors. It is forbidden that such things are said about Jews or Arabs.”

Among those signing the letter are the chief rabbis of Ramat Hasharon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, Rishon Letzion, Carmiel, Gadera, Afula, Nahariya, Herzliya, Nahariya and Pardes Hannah. Top national-religious Rabbi Shlomo Aviner signed the letter, as did Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, son of the Shas Party spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Top haredi leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv also signed.

The ruling states that renting to non-Jews and Arabs will deflate the value of the home and of homes in the area. It says that neighbors of those who are renting or considering selling to non-Jews or Arabs should first warn the neighbor personally, and if the behavior continues to notify the community. The offending landlord, according to the ruling, must be ignored and not be called to the Torah for an aliyah.


About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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