JERUSALEM (VINnews) — In a shameless desecration of the holiest day of the year, anti-religious protesters prevented a Yom Kippur prayer service with separate seating for men and women from taking place in Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv.
After the court ruled that a partition could not be placed between men and women in a public place, the Rosh Yehudi organizers of the Kol Nidrei prayer service tried to use Israeli flags as a makeshift mechitza. However irate residents and protesters arriving at the scene confronted the worshipers, destroyed the partition, and removed the chairs that the organizers had placed. The protesters verbally abused the Rosh Yehudi leaders and used whistles and heckling to disrupt the prayers, which were eventually moved to another nearby location on a side street.
יום כיפור? מלחמת אחים בכיכר דיזנגוף pic.twitter.com/SELvDSfWkg
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Just before the blowing of the shofar at the end of the holiday, the head of the Rosh Yehudi organization, Yisrael Ze’ira, took the stage and said that he forgives the handful who prevented the prayer and that he only acted out of a desire for unity.
Prime Minister Netanyahu commented on the protests, stating that : “The people of Israel sought to unite on Yom Kippur by asking for forgiveness, repentance, and unity within us. To our astonishment, precisely in the Jewish state, on the holiest day for the Jewish people, left-wing demonstrators rioted against Jews during their prayer. It seems that there are no borders, no norms and no boundaries for hatred on the part of the extremists on the left. I, like the majority of Israeli citizens, reject this. Such violent behavior has no place among us.”
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai responded differently to the incident: “Unfortunately, last night, religious and messianic extremists decided to trample on the court’s decision and established a partition between men and women at the Yom Kippur Eve prayer.”
“A crowd of protestors and residents of the city, prevented the prayer in Dizengoff Square from taking place in its illegal form. Since the Yom Kippur War, 50 years, I have not been called during the holiday. I want to make it clear – I will not let the character of our city change! In Tel Aviv-Yafo, there is no place for gender segregation and exclusion in the public space.”
Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir wrote “On this Yom Kippur, we saw haters who are trying to expel Judaism from the public sphere. Israel is a Jewish country, and a democratic one. Next Thursday I will hold an evening prayer in the square, the public is invited!”.
Opposition Chairman Yair Lapid published a post on Facebook at the end of the holiday in which he wrote: “It’s a shame that in the name of G-d, Yom Kippur was spoiled. For years I have given Yom Kippur as an example that Judaism does not need to be enforced. It becomes ours only when we consider each other. Until this year. Until the haredi core that came to the neighborhood decided to bring the war to us as well. They insist on gender segregation outside as well. They make sure to explain to us that there is only one version of Judaism, their version.”
Chief Rabbi David Lau responded to the demonstration, stating that “I heard with great sorrow about the incidents which occurred at the prayers on the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. The most special day of the year turned due to the wild incitement of haters of religion into a sad day. Some people forgot the meaning of the day and continued to foment hatred.
“The prayers were attended by residents of Tel Aviv who wished to pray in accordance with halacha without any attempt to coerce anyone and only for those who wanted them in this fashion. Under the guise of freedom they prevented a large group from praying according to its customs. The incident has overtones of dark periods in Jewish history. The state of Israel was established as a home for the Jewish people and needs to be a place where people can live according to Judaism’s requirements. All those who claim that the state of Israel is Jewish and democratic please remember that the Jewish is no less important than the democratic.”