Activists from the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party’s Young Leadership movement spent the Sabbath in one of the neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv, and were shocked at what they found.
The young visitors were horrified to hear that the synagogue they visited, Etz Chaim, had been left nearly empty due to violence from illegal infiltrators living in the area.
The gabbai of the synagogue, who coordinates the prayers, told them that infiltrators would hit worshipers in the area of the synagogue, until many were afraid to come. Until the young activists’ visit, it had been three years since the synagogue had a minyan (prayer quorum of ten men) for all three Sabbath day prayers, he told them.
The synagogue usually has a minyan of ten men just once a week, for Sabbath morning prayers, he explained.
During a tour of the neighborhood the youth found a second synagogue, Kahal Chassidim, that had been abandoned completely.
“We were just walking, and suddenly we saw a peeling Star of David on the wall. We came closer and realized we were looking into a large synagogue that had been in use for many years,” activist Uri Tzfania recalled.
The neighborhood as a whole had a strong air of neglect, they said. Spokesman Netanel Ariel related, “There was filth all along the streets, and garbage bags that apparently nobody had bothered to collect. In one courtyard, we saw newspapers from half a year ago that hadn’t been thrown in the garbage.”
“The level of neglect and lack of hygiene was horrific,” he added.
Ariel concluded, “Every time we come here to south Tel Aviv, we’re exposed to new problems. We were shocked to hear that Jews are afraid to walk around in the streets of the ‘first Hebrew city,’ but it turns out that is the case. Whoever could, fled the area, and those who didn’t are afraid.
“This has to stop,” he declared.
Tel Aviv is sometimes referred to as "the first Hebrew city" because it was the first Jewish city to be built in modern times. Of course, Hebrew cities like Hevron and Jerusalem predate it by thousands of years.