Report: Synagogue to be moved, not destroyed

Dramatic development: congregants report Deri has proposed transferring synagogue to adjacent plot, and promised to make it happen.

Eliran Aharon,

Ayelet Hashahar Synagogue
Ayelet Hashahar Synagogue
Congregants of the synagogue

Members of the Ayelet Hashahar Synagogue in Givat Ze'ev northwest of Jerusalem reported Wednesday on a meeting at the office of Minister Aryeh Deri, head of the Shas party, in which a potential solution to the High Court's orders to destroy the synagogue was presented.

According to the report, during the meeting Deri proposed lifting the synagogue in its entirety and transferring it to the plot adjacent to its current location. Deri obligated himself to make sure funds would be allocated to conduct the move, and said he would involve the defense minister and all other concerned parties.

The solution is dependent on approval by the city council, and involved sources say "the moment it is approved a request will be placed at the High Court to issue an extension for carrying out the solution."

Aside from Deri, the report indicates those attending the meeting also included Religious Affairs Minister David Azulai (Shas), Shas director Chaim Biton, Givat Ze'ev regional council members from the Shas party Yossi Muallem and Moshe Cohen, as well as the synagogue's Rabbi Azriel Cohen.

On Tuesday senior rabbis issued a letter calling on security personnel not to take part in the demolition of the synagogue, noting that Jewish law forbids the destruction.

Rabbi Cohen of the synagogue also issued a letter to Deri, Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) and Health Minister Ya'akov Litzman (UTJ), calling on them to act to stop the demolition and not let it happen on their watch.

Members of the synagogue, which has been standing for over 15 years, argue that they bought the plot legally but nevertheless were ready to pay compensation to the alleged Arab owners, who together with the radical leftist groups leading the lawsuit rejected the offer and demanded the destruction of the house of worship.