A man from the hassidic Chabad stream was denied entry to the Ramat Aviv Shopping Mall Friday. The man routinely asks shoppers if they are interested in putting on tefillin, or phylacteries, and saying some prayers, and assists them in doing so if they agree.
The Chabad man was told that he causes business owners to feel "uneasy." The security man who prevented his entrance said that he was acting upon instructions from the mall's management.
The incident was reported by famous singer Yehoram Gaon, on his weekly radio show on Reshet Bet. He was an eyewitness to the incident and was shocked by it, comparing it to the treatment of Jews in Berlin in the 1930s. Hareidi-religious news sources picked up the story and also found it extremely offensive.
The mall management said in response that "Ramat Aviv Mall is open to the entire general public, and welcomes everyone regardless of religion, sex or race. Hundreds of thousands of people from all parts of the populace visit the mall annually. It is important to stress that there is a synagogue in the mall that is open throughout the mall's hours of activity, and that the mall does not operate on Shabbat.
"Following intensive activity by Chabad people throughout the mall, we received many complaints from customers and business owners in the mall, who feel disturbed by this activity. In view of this, we asked the Chabad people who come to the mall to respect [their wishes] and avoid holding their activities within the mall."
Ramat Aviv is a posh northern suburb of Tel Aviv. In recent years, a growing hareidi presence in the area has led to protests by extremist secular elements.