Rabbi tells IDF recruits women ‘weak-minded,’ incapable of spirituality

At Eli pre-army academy, Yosef Kelner disparages women with careers as ‘gorillas,’ says sending females to college doesn’t turn them into ‘great geniuses’

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Rabbi Yosef Kelner (YouTube screenshot)
Rabbi Yosef Kelner (YouTube screenshot)

A rabbi who teaches at a pre-military religious academy in the West Bank told future IDF recruits last year that women were “weak-minded” and possessed a reduced capacity for spirituality.

In footage broadcast by Hadashot news on Tuesday, Rabbi Yosef Kelner was seen disparaging women with careers as “gorillas” to yeshiva students at the West Bank settlement of Eli.

“Women have a limited capacity for spirituality. They can reach a medium level of spirituality,” Kelner said in a class on marriage and family that was filmed last summer.

“There’s no such thing as spiritual women. It’s just not true,” he said. “It’s not a failure on women’s part, it’s just that nobody is expecting them to reach certain heights spiritually.”

“They are weak-minded. They just babble, that’s it. Women’s babble,” Kelner told students.

Women, he said, were naturally intuitive, but modern culture had “turned them into nothing.

“They are destroying women until there won’t be any women left. They are all so confused.”

He went on to assert that women were less intelligent than men, and pointed to the fact that there were more male Nobel laureates than female ones.

“Just because they send them en masse to universities they’re suddenly all great geniuses? No!”

He added: “Yes, there are some CEOs here and there, ‘girlillas.'”

Two years ago, Kelner came under fire for making homophobic remarks to his students. In a 2016 lecture, Kelner referred to gay people as “miserable” and “sick and perverted.”

Kelner’s remarks were not the first time a rabbi teaching at the Eli preparatory school has made disparaging remarks about women.

Last year, Rabbi Yigal Levinstein told several hundred graduates of the program that IDF service has “driven our girls crazy.”

“They recruit them to the army, where they enter as Jews, but they’re not Jews by the time they leave,” he said. “Not in the genetic sense, but all of their values and priorities have been upset, and we must not allow it.”

His comments drew broad condemnation from Israeli officials and politicians, with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman asserting that Levinstein could be stripped of his position at the Eli academy.

Levinstein later defended his comments, saying he regretted the manner in which he spoke, but stressing he would not “retract a single word of what I believe.”

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