JERUSALEM — (02-28-19) — An Israeli small claims court handed a victory to Sammy Kanter, an American gay student who sued Ben Yehuda Pizza locations in Jerusalem for refusing to serve him because he was gay. The court ordered Ben Yehuda to pay Sammy kanter $4,400 in damages.

Sammy Kanter, a Cincinnati native, was in Jerusalem to study at the Hebrew Union College. His goal was to become a Reform rabbi.

According to Sammy Kanter, the incident at the Ben Yehuda Pizza took place in August of 2018, while he and other rabbinical friends were celebrating the city’s PRIDE weekend festivities.

Sammy Kanter said…”I entered Ben Yehuda 2 that day with friends, wearing a T-shirt with “Cincy” printed in rainbow colors. Then a pizzeria employee greeted our group and started handing out menus to us and then, he spotted my t-shirt.

Kanter wrote on his Facebook page…”The guy behind the counter said “Atah Homo (are you gay)?” I said yes,” wrote Kanter “He said ‘out’ and pointed at the door. My jaw dropped.” wrote Kanter.

Another pizzeria employee decided to get involved and began to follow the group up the street until they were a block away from the 2 Pizzeria., according to Kanter.

LGBTQ Americans should know that it is illegal for businesses in Israel to refuse service because of customers’ sexual orientation.

Kanter was helped with his case from the Israel Religious Action Center, the social justice arm of the Reform movement in Israel. With their help, Sammy Kanter filed a lawsuit last September seeking damages in the amount of $9,100.

Kanter said that after the homophobic incident at the pizzeria, his dream of being wholly welcomed in Israel had been “shattered.”

“How did the only place where I was supposed to truly belong deny me service and chase me out on the street?” wrote Kanter on his Facebook page.

Executive director of Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), Anat Hoffman, told progressive news publication Haaretz..”I and the group is proud of Sammy Kanter and his classmates for standing up for equality and justice in Israel.” Hoffman told Haaretz. “They have used their time in Israel to prepare for the rabbinate not only by studying, but also by transforming Israeli society,” said Hoffman.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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