Gay rabbi in training sues Jerusalem pizzeria for not serving him

A rabbinical student who was allegedly throw out of a pizzeria for being gay is suing the restaurant.

Sammy Kanter, an American attendee of Jerusalem’s Hebrew Union College, first reported the incident on social media in August.

In a Facebook post published on August 3, he said he went into the Ben Yehuda 2 pizzeria after Jerusalem Pride parade, only to be asked in Hebrew by an employee: “Are you gay?”

The student, who was dressed in a top which read “CINCY” in rainbow letters—a reference to his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio—said he was, at which point the staff member allegedly told him: “Out” and pointed to the exit.

The top which allegedly led to Kanter being thrown out (sammy kanter/facebook)

“My jaw dropped, and he instructed my classmates and [me] to leave,” Kanter wrote in the post.

He is now suing the company for 33,500 shekels (around £7,000) with the help of human rights organisation Israel Religious Action Centre (IRAC), the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has reported.

Kanter, whose college is affiliated to the relatively liberal Reform branch of Judaism, said that after taking a sign reading: “Love your neighbour as yourself” to Pride, he was shocked to be treated in this way.

Kanter’s post on Facebook on the day of the incident (sammy kanter/facebook)

“This core principle of Judaism was something I was proud to carry through the streets with my fellow Rabbinic students and 35,000 others,” he wrote.

The student added: “I grew up being told Israel was the place where Jews could feel always feel at home, a country that lived our Jewish values, and a place that was a worldwide leader in LGBTQ rights.”

Referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blocking an amendment extending surrogacy rights to gay couples—which led thousands to march through cities including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa to demand equality—Kanter wrote: “I’ve seen a government that bans gay men from having a family.

“Yes this isn’t every Israeli, but unfortunately way too many believe these things.”

The pizzeria which allegedly threw out Kanter (sammy kanter/facebook)

He said that he was happy, with “a wonderful boyfriend, family (and) support system,” adding that he hoped “the many Israelis in this country who have so much room for hate in their heart can find the same.”

“This is an important precedent for Jerusalem,” Rabbi Noa Sattath, director of IRAC, told local media.

The owner of the pizza shop, who Sattath said was liable for his employee’s actions, initially told the media that if Kanter’s story was true, he would fire the worker.

Kanter will represent himself (sammy kanter/facebook)

He made a u-turn after talking to the staff member in question, saying that it was a misunderstanding and that the employee had actually been asking Kanter to sit at an outside table.

The owner has since refused to settle out of court, Sattath said, meaning that the case will go ahead at the Jerusalem Small Claims Court on January 31, where Kanter plans to represent himself.

Sattath added: “Sammy is not interested in the money for himself. He is interested in the precedent.”