United Torah Jewry's representative in Haifa, Rabbi Aryeh
Blitental, prevented the City of Haifa from carrying out the
demolition of the Paz Bridge on Shabbos. Following his
staunch protests, Mayor Yona Yahav honored his request and
ordered the operation postponed to a later date.
With the construction of a new bridge the preparations to
wreck the old bridge leading from a central Haifa artery via
Highway 58 toward the northern suburbs were fully underway.
But on the Thursday morning before the scheduled demolition,
City Council Member Blitental learned the operation was
scheduled to begin Shabbos night and continue until late the
next day. The plan was to explode the bridge slowly, one
segment at a time. Therefore it was scheduled for Shabbos to
prevent traffic jams and congestion.
When Rabbi Blitental contacted the City of Haifa he was told
by certain officials that the Yeffeih Nof municipal company
had been hired to execute the demolition and hinted police
had asked for it to take place on a Shabbos. Blitental
quickly spoke to various other city hall officials, who
agreed to postpone the demolition to a later date.
Afterwards he went straight to Northern District Commander
Maj. Gen. Yaakov Borovsky, who told him that police did not
ask to have the road destroyed on Shabbos and he too had no
objections to deferring the operation. Similarly Haifa Police
Chief Nir Mariash said the police merely acts as "a
contractor" and would carry out the demolition whenever it
was instructed to do so. "I understood from all of the
officials that there was no reason not to delay the
demolition until a weekday," said Blitental. He also
contacted local rabbonim to inform them of the scheduled
chilul Shabbos and then MKs Rabbi Moshe Gafni and
Rabbi Meir Porush, each of whom acted to prevent the
demolition from taking place on Shabbos.
Thursday afternoon, upon returning to city hall to continue
working to prevent the chilul Shabbos, Mayor Yona
Yahav summoned him and told him he had personally ordered
work postponed until a weekday.