Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, the New York-based rabbi whose followers include many high society names, has condemned the letter prohibiting Jews to rent or sell property to Arabs, signed by 50 municipal rabbis.
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"This letter has put the lives of Jews abroad in danger," he told his followers on Thursday. "It comes from stupidity."
Pinto, well-known for providing spiritual guidance to celebrities and businessmen in Israel and the United States, made the statement during a visit here following a recent operation. Participating in a welcoming party in his honor last week were Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz,Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Religious Services Minister Yaakov Marg, National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau, three Kadima MKs and Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush. Also present were the head of logistics in the IDF, Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir, police officers, businessmen Ilan Ben-Dov and Jacky Be- Zaken, and journalist Shalom Yerushalmi.
Pinto's father, Rabbi Chaim Pinto, the rabbi of Ashdod, signed the letter but withdrew his signature shortly after its publication, saying he had signed it by mistake and was not aware of its true content.
Yoshiyahu Pinto told his followers on Thursday that since the letter was released, "New York Jews come to me frightened, saying the newspapers are full of stories on what is going on in Israel. This letter is founded in stupidity. There's great racism against Jews in America today. What does this letter mean? It means that Jews won't be able to live in New York or anywhere else in the world."
Pinto did not comment on the moral or religious aspects of the letter, saying only that "there are many who think we are at the beginning of salvation, but salvation still has not come."
The New York rabbi spent last night praying with thousands of his followers in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.