By Haley Cohen
The Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel called black people “monkeys” during his weekly sermon on Saturday evening.
Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef was addressing Jewish legal aspects of the blessing on seeing fruit trees blossoming, and whether one should bless one tree or at least two.
In that context, he mentioned a blessing uttered upon seeing an “unusual creature,” citing the example of encountering a black person who has two white parents on the street in America.
According to Ynet, Yosef referred to black people by the derogatory Hebrew word “kushi,” and then going on to term a black person a “monkey.”
His office told Ynet that the comparison was a quote from the Talmud.
This was not Yosef’s first time causing controversy in his sermons. Last May, he appeared to suggest that secular women behave like animals because they dress immodestly.
Time for damage control:
UK’s Chief Rabbi Slams Israeli Counterpart For Calling Black People ‘Monkeys’
By Ari Feldman
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis of the UK has rebuked his Israeli Sephardic counterpart for referring to black people as “monkeys,” the Jewish Chronicle reported.
Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, a globally recognied leader of Sephardic Jews in Israel, made the racist comment this week during a sermon about saying a blessing when one sees an “unusual” person. Yosef said that in America you wouldn’t say the blessing on a black person, because “you see one every five minutes.” Yosef then seemed to insinuate that you would only say the blessing over the dark-skinned son of a white family — because “they had a monkey as a son.”
Mirvis said “the terminology used is deeply offensive and totally unacceptable.” Mirvis announced that his office had reached out to Yosef’s office to “make that clear.”
Yosef has come under fire from Jewish groups in the UK, in the U.S. and in Israel.
A representative for Yosef said that the remarks were made in the context of Talmudic language. He said that the Talmud explicitly says to say the blessing over “unusual” people when seeing an actual monkey or ape.