Residents of southern Tel Aviv are urging the city's mayor, Ron Huldai, to help maintain the sanctity of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, amid concerns over the conduct of the city's large population of illegal African immigrants during the Jewish holidays.
In a letter written by members of the “City South,” (South Tel Aviv) faction, residents point out that there is a consensus in Israeli society in favor of protecting the sanctity of Yom Kippur. However, the population of refugees and illegal infiltrators living in the south of the city are not aware of this obligation, and residents accuse them of loudly and publicly violating the sanctity of Jewish festivals in a manner they deem to be insulting.
"In southern neighbors of the city where a large population of refugees and infiltrators live, the people naturally have no connection whatsoever to Yom Kippur. From their point of view, it's just another day off where they can do whatever they want and celebrate without interference. Thus, instead of the usual atmosphere of Yom Kippur which exists all over the country, we have loud music, barbecues in the middle of the street and other distractions that affect the atmosphere of the special day, right under our windows. This situation repeats itself every year, and it is intolerable. It is not respectful and it cannot continue."
The members also referred to incidents which occurred just a few days ago during Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) where refugees were partying in public parks, playing loud music, beating on drums, lighting barbecues, and behaving in other ways that disrupted the holiday.
In contrast to "New Year" celebrations in many other cultures, Rosh Hashana is not traditionally celebrated through parties but through prayer, reflection and repentance.
In the words of the residents, "the previous experience which occurred on Rosh Hashanah teaches us that it is expected to happen again on Yom Kippur. We are not prepared to accept more."
Faction members then called on Huldai to exercise his power and available means in order to stop the severe harm that will likely tarnish the sanctity of Yom Kippur this year.
To do so, requires faction members of Huldai to "immediately start an operation of intensive advocacy among the refugees to ensure close monitoring of the enforcement of state laws by municipal employees."
The letter claimed to represent residents of southern Tel Aviv "from a variety of opinions and beliefs, religious and non-religious," all of whom "urge you [Huldai] to take action to safeguard the sanctity and character of the day, uniting all of society."
Haim Goren, chairman of "City South", and a resident Shapira neighborhood said, "Every year the phenomenon repeats itself and for several years the atmosphere of Yom Kippur is disrupted and there is no enforcement. It's time to put an end to this phenomenon and to regain order in the south of the city, on Yom Kippur and throughout the year. "
Another resident, Sheffi Paz, said, "I define myself as secular , but my heart is torn every year on Yom Kippur. I walk around the neighborhood and see people who are fasting on Yom Kippur cry in their doorways. Public parks, which are the heart of the city, have a rising cloud of barbecue smoke above them, with a pungent odor of grilled meat and the loud noise of music. In the municipality there is no one to talk to. In the police there is no one to talk to. And when we try to confront the celebrants, they laugh in our faces."