Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

UK’s Chief Rabbi Slams Israeli Counterpart For Calling Black People ‘Monkeys’

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.

Contact Ari Feldman at [email protected] or on Twitter @aefeldman

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.