Hebrew University in Jerusalem on Monday informed its employees that the university will be closing its doors on Tisha B’Av and won’t be holding classes.
Prof. Amiram Goldblum of the University’s Faculty of Medicine, slammed the decision, stating: “Unbelievable – a shameful surrender to religious people and the Jewish religion in the State of Israel. Sickening.”
In another response, he wrote: “I thought that the Hebrew University was detached from religion and is a university of Jews and Arabs. I don’t remember the university being closed on any Muslim or Christian holidays. Maybe its name should be changed to the ‘Jewish University’? This would align well with the rampant racism in Israel.”
His words caused an uproar among the academic staff and one of the lecturers at the university responded: “An outrageous response – I recommend that you take a little interest in history and understand that Tisha B’Av marks a tragedy for the Jewish nation.”
In an interview with Channel 12 News, Prof. Goldblum said: “I am against the university’s decision to oblige me to suffer on Tisha B’Av – without the possibility of going to my laboratory at the university or promoting my research with my students. My problem is only the coercion.”
“The university is not only shutting the research facilities on that day but also the pool and the gyms. I can understand that restaurants aren’t open in order not to offend those who are fasting – but who am I offending by keeping fit? The university is completely closed only on Jewish holidays but 22% of the population in Israel are non-Jews – and there are no Christian or Muslim holidays on which the university is completely closed.”
In a response to Channel 12, the Hebrew University stated: “The Hebrew University respects the holidays of all religions, denominations, and sectors. The day of Tisha B’Av is a significant element of Jewish identity and therefore the university throughout the years has treated the day in a special manner.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)