This machlokes begins with the heritage site located in the heart of Modi’in Illit dating back to Bayis Sheini. The area, which is referred to as Khirbet Bad-Issa, is being developed by the city and the national government. Mayor Yaakov Gutterman plans to keep the site frum, announcing to Yated Ne’eman that secular visitors are unwelcome. He explains that he will ensure the site is suitable for frum visitors, and the site will operate in accordance to Halacha, based on the teachings of Gemara and Chazal.
Over the years, following the discovery of the ancient village in 1944, much has been revealed, including mikvaos, homes and a winepress. Things changed with the cabinet decision in May 2011, to include the site in the government’s list of ‘heritage sites’, which led to allocating 3 million NIS towards future development of the site.
Modi’in Mayor Chaim Bibas did not take a liking to Gutterman’s policy of banning non-frum from the site, sending him a letter in which he warned to ban chareidim from his city. Modi’in is home to predominately secular and dati leumi residents. He insists that a ‘national heritage site’ belongs to everyone and must remain open to all without discrimination.
Bibas reminds Gutterman how his city’s Anabe Park is frequented by chareidim during chol hamoed and other times, pointing to an incident in which a female performer was removed from the stage to accommodate the chareidi visitors.
Bibas warns that at this stage he is warning but if left with no alternative he will prohibit Modi’in Illit residents from visiting his city if Modi’in Illit bars secular visitors from the heritage site.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)