Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Tammuz 5771 - July 21, 2011 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Court Orders Netanya Municipality to Earmark Building for Reform Synagogue

By L.S. Wasserman

After two years of legal battles, the Tel Aviv Court for Administrative Affairs decided the City of Netanya must allocate a municipal building for a Reform "temple" in the city. The ruling shows complete disregard for the majority of local residents, who clearly disdain the Reform movement and all it stands for. Disgruntled residents voiced their disappointment over the municipality's failure to argue against the Reform movement in court and thereby defend the interests of city residents, who are mostly traditionalists.

Rabbonim and public figures in Netanya said they were surprised at the city council members, including kippah-clad councilmen not from chareidi parties, who did not lift a finger, and through their silence lent their backing to the scandalous conduct of the municipality's legal department.

Two years ago the city council was slated to hold a key vote on allocating land to a Reform synagogue, which made every effort to obtain the plot, located in downtown Netanya on Sderot Beckman. On an Erev Shabbos an emergency meeting was held — bringing together Rabbi Yehoshua Rosenberg, Rabbi Shimon Gabbai, Rabbi Moshe Lachover, Rabbi Eliezer Sorotzkin, Rabbi Moshe Ben Moshe and others — to discuss the court's insistence that the Netanya Municipality consider the allocation, which had been earmarked for the Reform activists by the city's Allocations Committee, and a court order to freeze all lots designation for the construction of botei knesses in the city.

Following public outrage and the firm stance taken by the city's rabbonim, in June 2009 the Netanya City Council, in a majority vote, decided to reject the Allocation Committee's recommendation and instead to make it available to a home for at-risk children.

It was also decided that should the Reform activists demand an alternative site they would be required to submit a new request that would have to go through the various committees. When the decision was announced, Reform representatives on hand at the meeting said the matter would be taken back to court, where a decision on their primary petition was pending.

Torah-faithful Netanya residents, along with the majority of the general population, were certain at that point the municipality would launch a full-scale legal battle for the sake of its constituents, but the municipality showed no opposition to the court, simply awaiting its ruling tight-lipped.


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