Police demolish illegal Yerushalmi Faction synagogue

Police drag out worshipers holed up in illegal Jerusalem synagogue associated with the radical Yerushalmi Faction.

Tzvi Lev ,

Jerusalem Faction members protesting
Jerusalem Faction members protesting
Flash 90

Police forcefully dragged members of the radical Yerushalmi Faction (Jerusalem Faction) out of an illegal synagogue that they had set up in Jerusalem's French Hill neighborhood as part of a long-running power struggle.

The worshipers had erected a caravan in the middle of a busy part of the city without receiving permission. After the Jerusalem Faction refused to negotiate with city officials, police bulldozers leveled the caravan. Police arrested two after opposition to the move turned violent.

French Hill has been the scene of a power struggle between members of the more mainstream haredi community and the Jerusalem Faction, which pledges its allegiance to Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach. Members of the stringent Jerusalem Faction have been accusing the local haredi rabbis of being in the service of Reform Judaism, had lobbied city council members to vote against the interests of the other haredi Jews living there, and opened a rival neighborhood yeshiva.

The timing is especially sensitive, as French Hill has become more haredi over the past few years. Haredi leaders have been urging residents to keep a lower profile, in an attempt to refrain from the religious-secular strife that has plagued the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Hayovel, which also had an influx of haredi residents.

In August, prominent haredi Torah Sage and leading halakhic authority Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky ordered subordinates to expel families affiliated with the extremist 'Jerusalem Faction over fears that they would spark fighting with Jerusalem's secular residents.