For Degel Hatorah, backing candidate Einat Kalish-Rotem in the Haifa mayoral race proved a success, and with chareidi nemesis Yona Yahav ousted from City Hall, Degel is beginning to enjoy the success of its campaign and election strategy in the northern city, with the hope and vision life for the chareidim in the current administration will be far better than it was in recent years under Yahav.
Back to Yerushalayim and the Peleg Yerushalmi-affiliated ‘HaPeles’ newspaper, Degel Hatorah is the target of a scathing attack, citing how the party has assisted in the appointment of Conservative Rabbi Dov Haiyun to a deputy mayoral post in Haifa, expressing shock over this reality, adding how rabbonim shlita and the entire chareidi tzibur continues to wage an unrelenting war against Conservative and Reform Jewry, as they are both working to destroy Yiddishkeit, which has survived throughout the generations, and now, Degel Hatorah plays a role in the appointment of Haiyun as a deputy mayor in Haifa.
HaPeles embellishes in its terminology against Degel, clearly contentious in its attitude and effort to show readers just how serious Degel’s actions are for permitting Haiyun’s appointment and the potential damage this poses to Yiddishkheit. Significant real estate is provided for the article bashing Degel, as the newspaper quotes Degel party chairman MK Moshe Gafne, and his many statements against both the Conservative and Reform, and now, showing how the party has sold out as it were.
Then comes the report released by Kikar Shabbos News, and the latter did some research and learned that of a vote that took place in Yerushalayim, during the administration of former Mayor Nir Barkat, when Peleg Deputy Mayor Chaim Epstein raised his hand and voted for the appointment of a gentleman who is a “senior Reform Movement rabbi”, Tomer Nir of the Yerushalmi party.
Nir is active in the Reform Movement and a major personality in establishing “Achva B’Kerem”, and a secular ‘yeshiva’ in Tel Aviv.
Kikar researched the meeting during which the voting took place, and it appears that representatives of Shas, Agudas Yisrael and Degel Hatorah absented themselves from the vote, which Mayor Nir Barkat called out being “unanimous”, but Epstein present. Degel’s Yitzchak Pindrus was present before the vote but was not seen after the vote on the video, however, Epstein was there, and he voted, and the mayor smiled as he declared the vote a “unanimous” one.
Prior to the vote, as Kikar Shabbos points out, Ofer Berkowitz, the secular candidate who lost in the Jerusalem mayoral race to Moshe Leon, spoke in support of Nir. It is also pointed out that Peleg backed Berkowitz in the recent mayoral runoff race rather than backing the religious candidate, Moshe Leon, as Leon was supported by Degel, leaving Peleg with few options as they see things.
As another aside, Kikar News points out that Nir received his is ‘rabbinical ordination’ in 2016, but he married couples earlier than that year nonetheless, as well as benefiting from backing and support of the New Israel Fund.
In response to the Kikar Shabbos News report, Chaim Epstein explains that at the time of the vote, he was unaware of Nir’s affiliation with Reform Jewry, and his title of “rabbi” was only received after he was appointed as deputy mayor of Yerushalayim.
There is no explanation given for the recent events in Haifa and the appointment of Haiyun.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)