Rabbi Dov Domb, a dayan on the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court, is one of seven rabbis who signed a letter urging action against people who rent apartments to migrant workers in Bnei Brak's Pardes Katz neighborhood.
Unlike civil court judges, the code of ethics for dayanim allows them to speak out on nonlegal issues. But it stresses that they must do so "with the due care mandated by their station, while maintaining objectivity and refraining from a polemical tone."
Yet this letter, published last week, urged apartment owners not to rent to foreigners lest they "take upon themselves all the spiritual calamities that will follow." A few days later, the Bnei Brak municipality announced various measures aimed at getting foreign refugees and labor migrants out of Pardes Katz.
Asked about this, a spokesman for Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, whose ministry is in charge of dayanim, said: "There's a regular procedure for filing complaints against judges and dayanim. If this matter reaches the minister's desk, he will look into it and deal with the case on its merits."
The Rabbinical Courts Administration said it would seek Domb's response and "act accordingly." Domb could not be reached for comment.
Domb was also involved in a case now being investigated by the police in which a developmentally disabled woman was apparently divorced without her knowledge or consent. Judicial ombudsman Tova Strasberg-Cohen, who first examined the case, found that the woman signed the forms she was given without knowing she was signing her own divorce decree, but Domb and the other dayanim on the panel nevertheless approved the divorce that same day.
Domb is just one of a long line of rabbis on the state's payroll who have recently made very controversial public statements. A few months ago, for instance, the chief municipal rabbi of Safed, Shmuel Eliyahu, and 17 other rabbis publicly urged Safed residents not to rent apartments to Arabs. "Non-Jews lead different lifestyles than Jews, and some among them hate us and intrude into our lives to the point of endangering them," the rabbis wrote.
The municipal rabbi of Kiryat Motzkin, David Meir Druckman, also raised a storm last month when he told a conference of rabbis and right-wing activists at a synagogue in Upper Nazareth, "We need to intimidate the Arabs, so they will flee Upper Nazareth. ... The Arabs must feel as if the Jews have gone mad and it's impossible to live with them. ... The Arabs should be afraid of us, not the reverse."
And police are now investigating two other rabbis, Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, for incitement to racism over their book "Torat Hamelech," which discusses situations in which religious law ostensibly allows the killing of non-Jews.