Israel Police's new chief rabbi: Homosexuals 'not in line with laws of nature'
Rabbi Rami Brachyahu chosen as the top religious figure in the police despite problematic past statements: 'We instruct police officers how to not get into a situation in which they are alone in a police cruiser with a female officer in the dark.'
One such statement determines that while "We need to demonstrate warm and humane treatment towards homosexuals as private people and as individuals … we cannot allow having in our community couples whose lifestyle is not in line with the laws of nature."
In a February 2015 interview given to the website Kippa, Rabbi Brachyahu was asked about the sex scandals that plagued the Israel Police in 2015.
"We give the police officers moral and ethical basis and instruct them how not to have heart-to-heart conversations and how not to get into a situation in which they are alone in a police cruiser with a female officer in the dark," he said in response. "It's true that this is complex and unhealthy, but it doesn't mean it's not possible."
Rabbi Brachyahu is also among the rabbis who are against female service in the IDF.
Brachyahu, the rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Talmon, was approved by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan after being chosen by Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh.
Alsheikh adopted the recommendation of an appointment committee headed by Deputy Commissioner Zohar Dvir, which was established in May
"I accept this role with fear and trepidation, while understanding the weight of the responsibility placed on me," Rabbi Brachyahu said on Monday, upon the approval of the appointment.
Rabbi Brachyahu heads the Beit Midrash project "Believing in the Police," which seeks to reconcile the work of police officers in the field with Jewish law (halacha). Among other things, the project encourages the recruitment of police officers from among the religious-Zionist sector and has so far brought dozens of young officers into the force.
As part of the project, officers who encountered halachic dilemmas during their service would turn to Rabbi Brachyahu. At the time, this was an undeveloped field in halachic rulings.
Among his rulings, Rabbi Brachyahu determined a police officer is allowed to desecrate the Shabbat while on duty, even in a situation that is not defined as "pikuach nefesh"— the principle in Jewish law that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious consideration—such as securing large-scale events on Saturday evening.
When asked about refusing an order when it comes to evacuating Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the rabbi said an effort must be made to be relieved of such an assignment by speaking to one's commanders rather than intransigently refusing an order.
He is also considered moderate when it comes to the halachic ban on women singing when men are present.
The Israel Police said in a statement on Monday that "We are confident that Rabbi Brachyahu will serve as a bridge to all the different sectors in the force and outside of it and will serve as a spiritual figure and moral compass to police officers everywhere."
The ultra-Orthodox public protested Rabbi Brachyahu's appointment, as he was chosen over their own candidate, Rabbi Moshe Gafni, who has been the acting police rabbi over the past few years. Rabbi Gafni's close associates claimed the religious-Zionist Alsheikh chose someone of his own sector and have threatened to petition the High Court of Justice against the appointment.
Meanwhile, the religious-Zionist Tzohar organization of rabbis welcomed the appointment, saying "Rabbi Brachyahu is a great Torah scholar, an important halachic ruler, who established the 'Believing in the Police' project where he has been dealing for years with public and individual affairs with sensitivity and great wisdom."
Meir Turgeman, Elisha Ben-Kimon, Roi Yanovsky and Kobi Nachshoni contributed to this story.