Rav Chaim Miller, a well-known askan and activist on behalf of Yerushalayim held an urgent meeting to address the growing chilul shabbos in the holy city. Present at the meeting were representatives of Shaare Chessed, the Knesset neighborhoods and other areas in proximity to Machane Yehuda.
Among the items discussed were the weekly Balabasta cultural events sponsored by the city in Machane Yehuda, events that bring thousands of visitors to the area for an event that is most unwanted by the frum community. The participants in the meeting addressed the pritzus in the shuk, which they exclaimed has reached unprecedented proportions, making shopping in Machane Yehuda increasingly difficult.
They discussed unacceptable events hosted in the Gerald Behar Center, located on Betzalel Street between Nachlaot and Shaare Chessed, adding often vehicles arrive on shabbos as technicians and others work in the center on shabbos to prepare for motzei shabbos events at that venue.
They spoke of the need to prevent unacceptable events in the shuk in the future and to send a clear message to the vendors that if the shuk is viewed as off limits to the chareidi tzibur, they will be the big losers in the long run. They acknowledged the fact that the stall owners in the shuk opposed the objectionable events, but City Hall decided to overrule everyone and hold them over the objections of the majority of booth vendors. Nevertheless, they feel that pressuring the stall owners of the shuk will promote the chareidi agenda.
Miller explained that gedolei yisrael have instructed him to wage an unrelenting battle on behalf of קדושת ירושלים to prevent a further deterioration of the situation in the capital. Miller reminded participants that the rabbonim of the Eida Chareidis have called for a limited boycott of the shuk to distance its tzibur from the pritzus.
In addition, Miller has contacted the management of Gerald Behar Center to request that they block the windows, perhaps with curtains and to limit public chilul shabbos. Miller is using the fact that chareidim rent the hall for events as a leverage point, explaining they will stop renting the facility if management is unwilling to comply with the minimal requests towards preserving the sanctity of the shabbos.
Also addressed during the meeting was the widespread chilul shabbos in Abu Tor, as Dr. Michael Goldsmith explained he represents a group of shomer shabbos academics and professors who live there, and are pained by the operation of cafes, movie theaters as part of the Uzi Wechsler Fund, which continues efforts to bring visitors to that community of shabbos and R”L encourage widespread chilul shabbos.
Goldsmith told the meetings “What did not occur to use abroad is happening here next to our schools and shuls, as thousands comes to the area on shabbos in their vehicles to visit cafes and other areas without regard for the holy day”.
Another area of major concern is public transportation, particularly to the Kosel. Miller promised to bring the matter to the attention of MK Rav Yisrael Eichler who heads the public transportation subcommittee as well as well as MK David Azoulay who heads the Knesset ombudsmen committee, seeking an urgent session on matter.
The committee also addressed the alarming condition of the beis hachaim near the Government Complex as well as the one near the old Shaare Zedek Hospital Building, citing the neglect, the deterioration of the matzeivos, lack of protective fences, lack of public restrooms or running water, pointing out that very important rabbonim are among those interred in these batei chaim and people come to the kevarim from around the world, not just from Eretz Yisrael. Miller updated participants, explaining he has already turned to the Ministry of Religious Services and if the ministry’s response is not satisfactory, they will have to revert to public outcry and pressure. He explained that the outcry did yield results at Har HaZeisim, where the security has been significantly improved as well as carrying out many badly needed repairs and improvements at that location.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)