The religious community in Netanya, Israel’s eighth largest city, is breathing a sigh of relief, after a nine-month Reform movement bid to ban new synagogue construction in the city has been blocked. Tel Aviv District Court Judge Sarah Gadot rejected an appeal by two Reform Judaism groups to stop any new synagogue construction in the city.
The story began in March of 2009, when the Reform groups succeeded in obtaining an administrative order to freeze all budgetary allocations for synagogue in construction in the seaside city. The Reformers said that so long as no temple is not built in keeping with their beliefs and lifestyle, no other sector should have new synagogues either.
The decision aroused a great storm of protest throughout the city, whose population is 180,000, and not only amongst the religious.
Attorney Dr. Nisan Shrifi filed suit against the order, saying it harmed his right to build a synagogue in memory of his late mother – a project that had already received municipal approval and in which significant sums of money were already invested. The synagogue, in the Ramat Poleg neighborhood, is to be named Be’er Chana.
“It is patently clear,” Shrifi wrote in his claim, “that the order is unreasonable and drastic, and has an element of ‘Neither you nor I will benefit,'" based on the Biblical story in King I [3,26], which describes King Solomon's wisdom concerning an appeal by two women who claim the same baby.
After the court ruled in favor of Shriki last month, the Reform groups appealed to the District Court, where Judge Gadot threw out the appeal. “There is no substantial claim against the original decision and its reasoning,” she wrote.
The Reform groups were also required to pay court costs of 5,000 shekels ($1,300) plus 16 percent VAT (Value Added Tax).