"The Municipality is not going to clear out synagogues," Haifa City Councilman Rabbi Michael Alper (UTJ) told a Yated Ne'eman reporter, in the midst of a battle in the city following reports synagogues were slated to make room for kindergartens. "I don't know of any synagogue in the city that we will allow to be turned into a kindergarten, and even if there was, it's prohibited to do so," said Rabbi Alper.
The controversy erupted when Ma'ariv published an article saying that as a result of the new law prescribing universal free education from the age of three, dozens of botei knesses in Haifa would be cleared out within months and converted into kindergartens, based on a decision by Mayor Yonah Yahav. The unusual decision stems from preparations under way to implement the decisions of the Trachtenberg Commission report, including free preschool education.
The newspaper reported that letters were recently sent out with orders to immediately clear various properties under Municipality ownership. In addition to kindergartens that were converted into botei knesses, various organizations and private kindergartens also received the letter.