Rabbis meet at condemned Givat Ze'ev synagogue

Leading Zionist rabbis discuss ways of preventing destruction of synagogue northwest of Jerusalem.

Eliran Aharon,

Rabbis Melamed (L) and Ariel.
Rabbis Melamed (L) and Ariel.
Synagogue congregants

Zionist rabbis gathered Thursday at the Ayelet Hashahar Synagogue at Givat Ze'ev, northwest of Jerusalem, which is due to be destroyed in the coming days, and discussed ways of possibly preventing the tragedy.

After the meeting, the rabbis spoke with the congregants and their numerous supporters, who are currently staying in the synagogue and hoping to stave off the demolition.

The rabbis included Rabbi Haim Druckman, Head of the Bnei Akiva Yeshivas; Rabbi Zalman Melamed, Head of the Beit El Yeshiva; Rabbi Dov Lior, Head of the Temple Institute; Rabbi David Chai Hacohen of Bat Yam; Rabbi Yosef Toledano, the Rabbi of Givat Ze'ev; and Rabbi Azriel Hacohen, the Rabbi of Ayelet Hashahar Synagogue, as well as other rabbis.

"We have come here because they are about to demolish a synagogue here, and the feelings are bad ones."

A desecration of God's name

"We cannot accept that this synagogue will be destroyed," said Rabbi Melamed. He told the congregants: "The High Court is harming the values of Israel, the Land of Israel, the Torah of Israel and the Rabbinate of Israel, limiting its rights and roles, and we are in a struggle for the image of Israel, in a struggle for the spiritual character of the nation of Israel in the Land of Israel. We see here a terrible desecration of God's name."

He cited a Talmudic pronouncement that states that desecration of God's name is just as serious if done by mistake or if done on purpose, and asked rhetorically: "Who can be a partner to an act of desecration of God's name, God forbid?"

The head of the Temple Institute, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, spoke about the importance of the mitzvah, or commandment, of the Land of Israel. "It is a mitzvah to fight for this land, to conquer it, to settle it, to build it. With God's help this synagogue will remain standing forever."

Rabbi David Chai Hacohen praised the people who had gathered in the synagogue. "Every single moment that this 'small Temple' is standing and is filled with the fear of Heaven will be remembered to your credit. God will not forget any prayer, any thought and any deed that was done for the sake of this place."

High Court judges ruled last week that the demolition of the synagogue must take place by November 17. "We are working under the assumption that the certified authorities will not wait this time with the execution (of the order) to the last minute," said the judges.

The synagogue, which has been in use for over 16 years, was slated to be demolished after far-left group Yesh Din filed a petition with the High Court, claiming the structure was built on privately-owned Arab land.

However, synagogue members note that the land was legally purchased and that it is currently undergoing legal proceedings to sort out its status as it didn't have a building permit. They have called on the court to wait for the facts to be sorted out before issuing a demolition order.

Jewish Home Chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday ruled out the idea of resisting the demolition.

"The ruling of the High Court about the synagogue in Givat Ze'ev is a harsh one. But I completely reject any call to refuse orders or to violence," wrote Bennett.

"The ruling should be carried out and the synagogue should be established at a new site."

Bennett's comments come in response to a letter issued the day before by senior rabbis from across the political spectrum, who urged security forces not to destroy the synagogue, noting that Jewish law forbids the destruction.



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