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N. Tel Aviv ‘Secularists’ Demanding a Shul

ywnisrael9.jpgFor a number of years, hundreds of northern Tel Aviv residents have been petitioning City Hall for an area on which they can construct a shul, but their requests have fallen on deaf ears.

Residents of the Kochav HaTzafon neighborhood, numbering about 4,000 residents, have been trying without success to have the city allocate an area for the construction of a shul. Government guidelines demand a minimum standard, a shul for every 2,000 people in non-religious areas, which is the case here, Kikar reports.

Prominent attorney Eitan Erez, who is not perceived as shomer shabbos and not one who sports a kippa, explains he is in shul every shabbos, together with his son, adding this is important to him as a self-proclaimed “traditional Jew”. He explains that Tel Aviv City Hall has been ignoring requests for a shul for five years, and the situation is simply intolerable. Erez further explains many of his neighbors are simply unaware that there is a minyan in the rav’s home and if a shul existed, there would be a significantly larger turnout. He points out there are some who need an aliyah to the torah, or others with a yahrzeit and their needs are simply going unanswered. The community rav is the Chabad shaliach, Rav Shmuel Lipkiper, who does maintain a minyan in his home.

Erez praised Lipkiper, explaining his home is small and the continued minyan is truly mesirus nefesh, nothing less. This past Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur marked a fifth year in which the shul officials rented a large tent, set up air conditioning and did what was necessary to provide a shul for residents, spending NIS 70,000 each year – pointing out over NIS 350,000 has already been spent instead of putting funds towards a permanent shul. They point out that during the yomim tovim, there were an average of 350 mispalalim and during Kol Nidrei and Ne’ilah, the numbers exceeded 500.

Erez explains there is a 17 dunam (4 acres) plot for public services and it is perfect for the shul, but the city states there community vaad objects, a claim that Erez insists is baseless. He adds there is no justification for objections since building a shul in this case represents compliance with the law. He also explains the vaad of 30 is illegal, since it was established six years ago, before the community was established, and since then, the city has not permitted local elections. He is hopeful this situation will soon be rectified, not just because of the shul issue, but because of many other issues, accusing the vaad of ignoring the needs of the community in many areas other than religious services.

He adds that unlike some chareidi areas where taxes are not paid, his neighborhood pays Tel Aviv City Hall NIS 30 million annually, but despite this, they do not receive basic municipal services. In addition to taxes, the local residents have undertaken the annual costs involved in erecting the tent, for a 10-day period, spending large sums for something they are entitled to under the law.

Erez adds that what is truly absurd is the man in charge of the properties portfolio in City Hall is none other than an Agudas Yisrael representative, R’ Naftali Lovert, adding that it is not just that the city is ignoring their request, but City Hall is tied up in bureaucracy, not having completed mapping and dividing the public plot to permit allocating an area for the shul. Erez, as an attorney, insists at the end of the process, an area must be allocated for a shul, not as a chessed, but as the municipality’s compliance with the law.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

3 Responses

  1. Amazing. Moshiach is on his way. North Tel Aviv, long known for ardent secularists, is demanding a shul. Leah Rabin, eat your heart out.

  2. Gee – I once heard a cab driver in Yerushalayim refer to a “Masorati” shul as a “Beit Ha Knesset Ha LoDati” – What in the world would they call this place?

  3. #3 “What in the world would they call this place?”

    Bet HaKnesset HaElyon. The fact that people who are not frum are demanding a shul is nothing short of fantastic.

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