Hareidi leaders predict a huge turnout for a protest on Sunday in Jerusalem that they are calling “the million man protest.” The demonstration – prompted by a series of government decisions that are preceived as hurting hareidim – has led to unprecedented unity among all of the hareidi streams.
Police, too, expect a very large turnout, and have therefore decided to block all traffic toward Jerusalem on Highway 1, from Latrun eastward, starting at 1:00 p.m. Sunday.
The Jerusalem Light Rail will stop running along its regular route at 12:00 noon, and will continue to operate only between Pisgat Ze'ev and the Damascus Gate, or Shaar Shechem.
Last week, a historic gathering was held at Bnei Berak in central Israel, with the participation of the Torah Sages Councils of all hareidi streams, against the compulsory enlistment law being prepared in the Knesset.
The Torah councils published a joint statement, in which they implored students at regular yeshivas and kollel-type yeshivas, not to cooperate with the military's plan for establishing a special recruitment center for hareidim. They called on the authorities “not to slow down the world of Torah but to assist in the flourishing of Torah institutions."
The IDF's hareidi combat battalion recently won a coveted IDF prize for excellence: the IDF Department of Technology and Logistics' Award. Rabbis of the Nahal Haredi Foundation said in reaction: “This is the best proof that when the haredi soldier is taken into account, suitable conditions are provided for him in the IDF, and things are done with dialogue and understanding, he will be better than any other soldier.”
Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, agreed with hareidim in 1948 to exempt 400 young hareidi men from military service every year, so that they can pursue Torah learning instead. This number has grown astronomically over the decades, and tens of thousands of hareidi men of ages in which other young men serve in the military, are currently exempted from service.