Sephardic Chief Rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef, believes that secular Jews who eat non-kosher food are “less intelligent”, triggering controversy in Israel, Anadolu Agency reports.
“I am in the rabbinical court, receiving cases and seeing what’s happening in the secular community. [The secular community is] suffering. They don’t find fulfilment in life. Everything is done for worldly desires,” Yosef said in a weekly sermon cited by The Times of Israel newspaper.
“A person who eats non-kosher food, his brain gets stupid, he can’t understand things, doesn’t get it. As soon as he starts keeping kosher, you can start to influence him,” Yosef claimed.
Kosher is any food or beverage that Jews are permitted to eat according to the Jewish traditional dietary law.
The Chief Rabbi argued that secularists are “jealous” of religious Jews, which all turns to become “hatred”.
His remarks, however, drew fire from opposition leader, Yair Lapid, who said the Chief Rabbi misrepresented his role.
“He is not the Chief Rabbi of Israel but rather the rabbi of a vocal minority that condemns millions of Jews who serve in the army, risk their lives, work and support this nation,” Lapid said in a statement.
Rift has grown between secularists and right-wingers in Israel since the formation of the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in late 2022, as the ruling coalition was made up of right-wing and religious parties.
The division even deepened over a government plan for judicial overhaul, seen by the opposition as a power grab in favour of the executive authority.