The Gross family of the Givat Mordechai neighborhood of Yerushalayim are working to drum up support for a chareidi shul. Shimi and Michal Gross lost their daughters Yael and Avigail as a result of having their home fumigated by an exterminator in 2014.
There have been rumors for some time that the Radin Yeshiva was trying to obtain a property for a shul in the community. Residents are opposed to a chareidi shul on Chaim Heller Street. Their opposition have prevented the issuance of a permit for the shul. The residents fear that if a chareidi shul opens will mark the beginning of the end of the pluralistic nature of the community, which is currently religious and non-religious living side by side. They fear the opening of such a shul would result in a negative migration of residents of both religious and non-religious residents out of the area. The residents add the non-profit representing the yeshiva is based in and operates in Netanya, so there is no reason to accommodate it in Jerusalem.
The Gross family appears to have decided to become involved, attending a meeting with Mayor Nir Barkat, asking him to approve the shul. During the meeting, Hisorarus party representative Elad Malka entered, expressing his opposition to the shul, which may be dedicated in memory of the Gross girls. Malka told them this was not anything personal against them, but opposition to a chareidi shul in the mixed neighborhood.
Mr. Shimon Gross has met with Malka, explaining he feels he can act to bridge to the sides in the hope of getting approval for the shul, which he adds “is desperately needed in the community”.
City Hall officials released a statement condemning disparaging rumors spread about Malka, expressing support for him, adding his opposition is based on facts and the mudslinging against him in unacceptable. The statement confirms the Gross couple did attend a meeting with the mayor and Malka, which was held in an atmosphere of mutual respect, concluding the city’s decision will be announced at a future date. City officials call on persons who have insulted Malka to issue an apology.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)