Israeli rabbis of Ethiopian origin yesterday accused the Israeli rabbinate of racially discriminating against them despite all the challenges they have fought to transfer tens of thousands of Jews from Ethiopia to Israel and to preserve the Jewish faith in Ethiopia.Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper released a report yesterday claiming that Ethiopian rabbis are racially discriminated against by the rabbinate because of their skin colour.
According to the report, the rabbinate has reduced the Ethiopian rabbis’ powers and prevented them from performing the simplest tasks including holding wedding ceremonies for Ethiopian Jews.
Rabbi Abashat Yellao, who lives in Netanya with his wife and seven children, said: “I was an important rabbi in Ethiopia and protected the Jewish traditions there despite the pressures. I convinced them to come to this country… Today, the rabbinate discriminates against us because of our skin colour and deprives us of our most basic rights.”
Dr Aviva Kaplan from the Netanya Academic College said Israel was serving its own interest. “It is Israel’s fault, Israel moved Ethiopians from a patriarchal society to the postmodern community and through the transition, and the Ethiopians were preyed upon.”
Kaplan pointed out that the migration processes, which Israel sponsors, caused problems for the communities because Israel wants to turn Jews into Israelis at any cost and as fast as possible.