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Heated Emotions as Bennett Tours Mir Yeshiva

Bayit Yehudi head visits Israel's largest yeshiva, in a sign he means business regarding hareidi enlistment.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 2/18/2013, 11:29 AM

Bennett visits Mir yeshiva.
Bennett visits Mir yeshiva.
Hezki Ezra

Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett visited Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem Monday morning and was scheduled to visit Hevron Yeshiva later in the day.

With over 7,500 single and married students, Mir is the largest yeshiva in Israel and is also believed to be the largest yeshiva in the world. Many of the students are from the United States and Canada, however, and are not eligible for IDF service as they are in Israel temporarily.

Some yeshiva students gathered when Bennett approached the yeshiva and hurled abusive language at him. However, most of the people who greeted him were polite, and Bennett appeared steadfast in his message that a reform in laws regarding hareidi enlistment is necessary.

After meeting the heads of the yeshiva, Bennett said that "the first thing that everyone must do" is to get to know the hareidim better.

"The principles that we see before us are, first and foremost, that the hareidim are our brothers – not an enemy or a rival," he said.

"Torah study is an existential interest of the state of Israel," Bennett explained, "just as settling the Negev is not just an interest of the residents of the South."

"It needs to be understood that part of the 'burden' borne by the nation of Israel is that we have both yeshiva students and army combat soldiers. We will have to find the way and recognize the changed reality, and understand that certain things have changed."