U.S. Revokes Visa of Tzfas’ Rav Shmuel Eliyahu

YERUSHALAYIM

Harav Shmuel Eliyahu. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The U.S. government has revoked the visa for Tzfas’ Chief Rabbi, Rav Shmuel Eliyahu.

The step is an unusual one, because the visa was cancelled rather than expiring.

Rav Eliyahu is one of the most prominent Rabbis in Israel, the son of former Chief Rabbi Harav Mordechai Eliyahu, zt”l, and for decades has served in public roles, such as the Chief Rabbi of Tzfas and a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council. The U.S. Embassy declined to provide details about why his visa was revoked, saying it does not comment on individual cases.

Some government officials in Israel think the decision might be related to comments Rav Eliyahu has made about Arab Israelis, such as calling on landlords not to rent to Arab tenants.

In recent years, Rav Eliyahu has been active in working to strengthen ties between Israel and US Jewry, but he is critical of Reform Judaism, which also could be a factor in the American decision to cancel his visa.

In response to the decision, Rav Eliyahu’s office said, “Despite contacting the American consulate, we have not received any explanation for the reason his visa, which was valid for decades, has been revoked. Our attempts to clarify have revealed that it was the act of anti-Zionists such as the Reform movement, entities that frequently try to attack freedom of speech and silence rabbis.

“After failing to silence Rav Eliyahu through legal means, they are now trying to shut him up through various petty tactics. There is no reason to worry – they won’t succeed,” his office said.

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