An American rabbinical student was denied service at an Israeli pizza joint because he was gay, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Sammy Kanter, who is studying at the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College in Israel for the year, was wearing a gay pride T-shirt in early August, a day after the Jerusalem Pride March, when he and some friends entered the Ben Yehudah 2 pizzeria. The white T-shirt had rainbow letters that spelled out “Cincy,” his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Kanter wrote in a Facebook post the day that the incident occurred: “Today, for the first time in my life, I was denied service at a pizza store for being who I am (in Jerusalem). I walked in with the shirt below, and the guy behind the counter said “Atah Homo (are you gay)?” I said yes. He said “out” and pointed at the door. My jaw dropped, and he instructed my classmates and I to leave.”
Refusing customers service because of their sexual orientation is illegal in Israel.
It’s upsetting when fundamentalists of any religion do this, but it’s particularly upsetting, at least to me, to hear about Jews doing it. Being a minority class themselves, you’d think they’d try to avoid actions that treat anyone else like a second-class citizen. Unfortunately, bigotry exists in every religion, every culture, and every country.
The owner of the pizzeria initially told Israeli media that, if the incident occurred as Kanter had said, he would fire the employee. He later backpedaled, saying it was probably a misunderstanding as the employee was trying to close the shop and get it cleaned up before the start of Shabbat.
If that were the case, then why ask Kanter about his sexual orientation? The excuse doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Kanter is supposed to remain in Israel for the rest of the school year, and he’s pursuing this case in court. A judge will hear his argument this January.
(Image via Facebook)