Rabbis and Engineers to Visit Gush Katif Synagogues

It appears that last week's High Court go-ahead for demolition of the Gush Katif synagogues is not the final word. Following a Cabinet decision and a restraining order, the demolitions are on hold.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 15:46


The Supreme Court decided last week, in opposition to most of the rabbinic opinions it received, that almost all of the more than 20 synagogues should be destroyed. It ruled that two of them could and should be transported out of the area, and that two others should be reviewed again for the same option.

(large photo courtesy of Katif.net)

At this morning's Cabinet session, the government decided on another approach. Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger were present, as were Chief Rabbinate Council members Rabbis She'ar-Yashuv Cohen, Simcha Kook and Yehuda Deri. In a discussion on the matter that lasted no less than three hours, the rabbis expressed their great pain at the decision to demolish the synagogues. They said that it was unanimous among the rabbis, even among Rabbi Metzger who has now changed his mind, that synagogues may not be destroyed.

"Even if there is a fear that the Arabs will desecrate them," Rabbi She'ar-Yashuv told Arutz-7 today, "we explained to them that it would be even worse for Jews to destroy the synagogues. This is the Torah law - even though some Labor ministers try to teach the rabbis what the Torah really means..."

The rabbis also said they had received many pleas from rabbis and Jewish communities all around the world. The feeling is that if Jews destroy synagogues in the Land of Israel, it will be hard to prevent other countries and cities from razing synagogues under other circumstances, such as zoning and planning considerations.

The Cabinet therefore decided that a team of rabbis and Defense Ministry engineers analyze each synagogue, and decide what can be dismantled. They will present their findings to the Chief Rabbis and the Defense Minister, who will then make a final decision on each synagogue.

Rabbi Cohen said that the visits are presently scheduled for as early as tomorrow. He said that the main problem might be the concrete walls, which might be impossible to transport without totally damaging them.

Shortly after the Cabinet session, the Supreme Court itself, in the person of Justice Ayala Procaccia, issued a restraining order against the destruction of evacuated synagogues in Gush Katif and northern Shomron. She said that the relevant opinions of Prime Minister Sharon, Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz, and the Disengagement Authority must first be obtained.