Hundreds Call on U.K. to Ban Visit by Rabbi Who Said Autism Is Punishment for Past Sins

Controversial remarks by Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi of the Kiruv Organization also include a claim that fewer than 1 million Jews perished in Holocaust.

Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi sits at a desk.
Screengrab from Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi's Facebook page

Hundreds have signed a petition calling for Britain to bar a visit by Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi, an Israeli-born New York rabbi who has sparked controversy for reportedly suggesting that autism and Down syndrome are the consequence of sins committed in a previous life, the London-based Jewish News website reported Monday.

The Jewish Chronicle of London reported that Mizrachi's website previously made reference to a visit to Britain from September 16 to 18, but said the reference to the visit has been removed. For his part, Mizrachi, who heads the Orthodox outreach Kiruv Organization and has more than 25,000 followers on his Facebook page, told the Chronicle that he doesn't have a date for his visit to Britain.

Earlier this year, Rabbi Mizrachi also made the claim that fewer than one million Jews died in the Holocaust. He then corrected himself, issuing an apology emailed to the Yeshiva World News saying: “I wish to apologize for my incorrect statement regarding the six million Kedoshim [holy people] that were tragically murdered in the Holocaust” and adding that he had been "shown the accurate statistics and I realize that those that were not halachically Jewish were a very small, minimal number."

The Jewish Chronicle also reported that last year, after the cataclysmic earthquake in Nepal, Rabbi Mizrachi commented that "all the idol worshiping places in Nepal are now destroyed.”