A Haifa court ruling has delivered a significant blow to the local Belzer community, ordering the chassidus to evacuate a shul building, a building that has been at the center of an ongoing conflict.
The story began about two years ago when Belz took over the Haifa Great Shul, a structure that was not actively used for a period of time. Tefilos were not held in the shul for a number of years prior to Belz moving in and chassidim took over the lower rooms and tefilos were held on weekdays.
It was only a short time later that Ger chassidim moved into other rooms of the large complex and the dispute was underway, unfortunately a dispute that led to violence on a number of occasions. Police involvement was necessary on some of those occasions when the sides became physical.
About a year later attorney Yosef Blau filed a petition with the city’s administrative court, explaining he alone has the right to divide the building. His petition, backed by official documents led to the court ordering Haifa City Hall to issue a eviction order against Belz, citing the chassidim were squatters and there was no legal support for their continued presence in the shul complex.
Belz chassidim in Haifa took their case to court in the hope of having the decision reversed. They felt the city did not have the right to oust them from the building. The city filed an appeal to the Belz petition, and this week the decision was handed down, backing the city and ousting Belz from the shul. Justice Yoav Friedman ruled the city’s eviction order is legal and the chassidus must evacuate the premises within 30 days.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)