Rabbi Haim Druckman
Rabbi Haim Druckman Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90

Rabbi Haim Druckman, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and other rabbis recently issued a ruling calling on Jews not to stay at the 'Magdala' hotel near the town of Migdal in northern Israel, even if the hotel offers kosher options.

The rabbis issued their call due to suspicions of connections between the hotel and missionary groups.

"I was asked about staying in a hotel that belongs to the missionaries - and even more than that, there is also a church - whether to stay there or not," said Rabbi Druckman in a video.

"I have to say,that even if the kashrut is the best of the best ... it's the equivalent of going to the mikveh with an impure small animal in his hand," he added. "I do not understand the question at all and do not understand how anyone would think of vacationing in a missionary hotel. There is no place for this and it is a very serious matter."

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu even called on his Facebook page not to provide a livelihood for missionaries. "Heaven forbid we should fund missionaries. After all the problems they have caused the Jewish people over the generations. They failed to destroy us with the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the pogroms. And now they come to try to convert us. What a disgrace."

"These missionaries must not be allowed to get a foothold in the country," he added. "They must not be given a livelihood. They should feel unwanted in the Land of Israel, so that they can move to another place, or stop their perverse activities."

Rabbi Shmuel Grozman, a Chadad emissary who is leading the campaign against the hotel, told Arutz Sheva: "According to a report by Yad L'Achim, the hotel is located in the church complex with clear Christian symbols. The purpose of the hotel as they declare in media articles is to connect Christians and Jews. "In a report in France, the group that operates the place is considered a dangerous cult."

"All the rabbis of Israel, led by Rabbi Haim Druckman, the Rosh Yeshiva of Bnei Akiva, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and Rabbi of Tiberias, Rabbi Auerbach, opposed vacationing at the Magdala Hotel," he added. "According to the rabbis, these are severe prohibitions bordering on idol worship."

"We hope that the those who planned their holidays there will reconsider and move to another place. The rabbis are very afraid that this will create a very serious opening for the future and for kashering places where there are clear churches and Christian symbols at every step," he said.

However, according to Yoni Kahana, CEO and owner of Kahana Group and also a Chabad hasid, it is true that the owner of the hotel is a Christian clergyman, but the hotel does not belong to a missionary group and is not part of efforts to convert Jews to Christianity.

Kahana said that said that although the hotel was initially built to host Christian pilgrims during their visits to Israel, after the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, the hotel removed any Christian symbols and began focusing on the Jewish customer base.

"As the CEO of a tourism company and a chain of kosher hotels abroad, I manage the kashrut of hotels abroad throughout the year," he said.

"Thanks to the coronavirus, I am managing the kashrut of a hotel in Israel in summer 2020," he added. "The claims that are made are entirely untrue. There are no crosses or missionaries in the hotel. On the contrary, there is an ancient synagogue from the Second Temple period in the center of the hotel and it is a great privilege to bring Jews to pray and sanctify the place."

Kahana also has a ruling from Rabbi Yonatan Bochorov, a Chabad posek from Rehovot and head of the Ateret Shalom Kollel, in which Rabbi Bochorov sated that it is permitted to stay in the hotel as long as there are no Christian symbols in the building at the time of their stay.

Rabbi Bochorov wrote: "In the back of the hotel in a building that is completely detached from the hotel building there is a closed building that serves as a house of prayer, the passage to the hotel is not through the churchyard at all."

"In light of all the above and after the tourism company's commitment to comply with the halakhic rules I mentioned, I am of the opinion that there is no impediment to staying at the Magdala Hotel this summer."