Shmuel Eliyahu

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Shmuel Eliyahu
הרב שמואל אליהו - פסח תשע"ו.png
Shmuel Eliyahu in 2016
Born29 November 1956
DenominationOrthodox Judaism / Religious Zionism
Alma materMercaz HaRav Kook
PositionChief Rabbi of Safed
OtherChief Rabbinate Council

Shmuel Eliyahu (Hebrew: שמואל אליהו‎; born 29 November 1956 / AM 25 Kislev 5717) is the Israeli Orthodox Chief Rabbi of Safed and a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council.

Early life[edit]

Shmuel Eliyahu was born to Mordechai Eliyahu, the former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, and his wife Tzviya. As a boy, he studied at Yeshivat Yerushalayim L'Tzeirim, and later at Mercaz HaRav Kook, where he was a student of Zvi Yehuda Kook. He also served in an Israel Defense Forces combat unit.


Eliyahu received his semikha (ordination as rabbi) at age 23, and at age 29 was appointed to the position of Municipal Rabbi of Shlomi. Three years later,[when?] he was appointed the Chief Rabbi of Safed.

In July 2013, Eliyahu ran for the position of Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel.[1] Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein requested that Eliyahu abandon his candidacy, noting that he had made a number of offensive statements against Arabs.[2] Member of Knesset Issawi Frej submitted an emergency petition to the High Court asking that Eliyahu be disqualified, since "election of a racist like Eliyahu to the position would be the start of the destruction of values in the State of Israel".[3] The High Court rejected the petition based on technicalities. In December 2013, Eliyahu petitioned the High Court against the Attorney General for using confidential information that was gathered as part of the failed criminal investigation that Weinstein sent to the election committee in his attempt to prevent Eliyahu from running.[4]

Eliyahu has edited many sefarim, including Halakha books written by his father, the Kol Eliyahu siddur, and the Avihem Shel Yisrael series of stories about his father that were revealed after his death.[citation needed]


Shmuel Eliyahu speaking at Yeshivat Mevaser Shalom

Carpet bombing[edit]

In May 2007, Eliyahu advocated "carpet bombing the general area from which the Kassams were launched, regardless of the price in Palestinian life". He further stated, "If they don't stop after we kill 100, then we must kill 1,000. If they do not stop after 1,000, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don't stop, we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop."[5]

State-sanctioned revenge[edit]

In March 2008, Eliyahu called for "state-sanctioned revenge" against Arabs. According to Haaretz, Eliyahu wrote an article for the newsletter Eretz Yisrael Shelanu ("Our Land of Israel"), wherein he proposed "hanging the children of the terrorist who carried out the attack in the Mercaz Harav yeshiva from a tree".[6]

Prime Minister[edit]

Eliyahu calls for a religious Prime Minister of Israel, saying that earlier prime ministers (presumably referring to Ehud Olmert) had been "without faith...without credibility...[and] without values".[7]

Propaganda pamphlet[edit]

Eliyahu was involved in publishing the conspiracy theory pamphlet On Either Side of the Border, in cooperation with the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU). The OU later asserted that its connection with the pamphlet was unauthorized by senior management.[8] The pamphlet, citing the personal account of a recent convert to Judaism who had previously been a member of the Lebanese organisation Hezbollah, asserts that the Pope and the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church allegedly help organize tours of Auschwitz for Hezbollah members, in order to teach them how to wipe out Jews. The pamphlet was distributed to IDF troops.[9] Danny Orbach, a Harvard-based Israeli historian, said that the pamphlet, supposedly written by a Lebanese, actually contains gross factual errors that no Arab could have made. In addition, there are also numerous other blatant geographical and cultural mistakes in the pamphlet, proving that the author is in reality an ultra-Orthodox Jew from Israel who knows very little about the Arab world. Orbach's conclusion is that Eliyahu took part in a forgery, clearly in order to propagate hatred against Arabs and Muslims.[10] Eliyahu failed to answer the accusations, but his spokesman vouched for the authenticity of the pamphlet in a conversation with Haaretz.[9][11] Furthermore, Eliyahu had widely quoted from the pamphlet in a subsequent article.[12]

Renting to Arabs[edit]

Eliyahu has urged Jewish residents of Safed not to rent housing to Arabs, leading to calls for his suspension, and for his prosecution on grounds of racial incitement.[13][14][15] In July 2012, Israel's Ministry of Justice closed the investigation into allegations of incitement, on the grounds of lack of evidence that the statements could be attributed to Eliyahu.[16]

Moving of U. S. embassy[edit]

Following an address in December 2017 in which U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced plans to relocate the U.S. embassy there from its current location in Tel Aviv, Eliyahu organized a joint letter signed by 250 Israeli Orthodox rabbis praising Trump's historic proclamation, stating, "You will be remembered in the history of the Jewish people."[17]


  1. ^ Sharon, Jeremy (9 July 2013) "Yesh Atid MK Decries Candidacy Of 'Racist' Sephardi Rabbi", Jerusalem Post
  2. ^ Ettinger, Yair (15 July 2013) "AG Urges Rabbi Eliyahu To Drop Candidacy In Light Of Anti-Arab Remarks", Haaretz
  3. ^ Bob, Yonah Jeremy (16 July 2013) "MK Files High Court Petition To Disqualify Rabbi Eliyahu From Chief Rabbi Race", Jerusalem Post
  4. ^ Yoaz, Yuval (22 December 2013). הרב הראשי של צפת: לפתוח בחקירה נגד היועמ"ש וינשטיין [Chief Rabbi of Safed: Open an investigation against AG Weinstein] (in Hebrew). Globes. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  5. ^ Wagner, Matthew (30 May 2007). "Eliyahu advocates carpet bombing Gaza". The Jerusalem Post.
  6. ^ "Safed chief rabbi calls on state to exact 'revenge' against Arabs". Haaretz. 2008-03-26. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
  7. ^ Weiss, Efrat (5 October 2008). "Rabbi: Israel needs religious PM". Israel Jewish Scene. Y Net News. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  8. ^ OU Regrets Unauthorized Link with Publication, Orthodox Union, 20 July 2009.
  9. ^ a b Ilani, Ofri (19 July 2009). "Vatican teaching Hezbollah how to kill Jews, says pamphlet for IDF troops". Haaretz. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  10. ^ Orbach, Danny (12 May 2011) "The Truth of Rabbi Eliyahu", Hayanshuf
  11. ^ Orbach, Danny (14 November 2010) "The fairy tales of Safed's chief Rabbi", Haaretz
  12. ^ Eliyahu, Shmuel (19 August 2011), A new glance on our struggle with Islam
  13. ^ Sherwood, Harriet (7 December 2010) "Dozens of Israeli rabbis back call to forbid sale of property to Arabs", The Guardian
  14. ^ Khoury, Jack (18 November 2010) "Safed rabbi to be suspended for 'inciting war between Jews and Arabs'", Haaretz
  15. ^ Wingfield-Hayes, Rupert (30 November 2010) "Israeli orthodox rabbi stirs up racism debate", BBC News
  16. ^ "Prosecutors close incitement case against Safed rabbi". The Jerusalem Post. 8 July 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  17. ^ Nachshoni, Kobi (7 December 2017). "Rabbis to Trump: 'You are fulfilling prophecies'". Retrieved 8 December 2017.