Rabbi Leo Dee
Rabbi Leo DeeIsrael National News

Bereaved father and husband Rabbi Leo Dee was pushed by an anti-religious protester on Thursday morning as he participated in a prayer service at Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv. In a conversation with Israel National News-Arutz Sheva, he recounted the incident and spoke about the prayer service, which, according to him, went on with relatively few disturbances.

"It was great, the tefillah (Prayer). We prayed with kavod (respect), with simcha (joy), we had about fifty people praying, and it was a lot of fun," he recounts. "We even had separate seating and mechitzot (partitions), and apparently, that's not a problem in Tel Aviv because we managed to pray with these as well."

Rabbi Dee adds: "There was a handful, literally five, maximum ten, people who came to disturb us, but we sang with them 'Am Yisrael Hai,' we danced with them a bit, and it didn't really disturb us that much.

I am a community rabbi from England, and we have much worse disturbances, people talking through the davening and Torah reading, so it doesn't disturb me, whatever," he quipped.

Despite the minor disturbance, Rabbi Dee left the event in good spirits. "It was very nice. A number of people told me they are secular, they never pray, but they came to support us because they were so appalled at what happened on Yom Kippur. They shook a lulav for the first time, it was great to see. A lot of fun; we had huge amounts of support, and we showed that the vast majority of people in Tel Aviv are for services in public, even with the separation of genders, and that the number of people who are against this is very small."

Regarding the protesters, he said: "They make a loud noise, but it's insignificant, and they should be ignored. Hopefully, the mayor of Tel Aviv will see this success, and he can cancel his laws determining what the state religion is and what is allowed, and that everyone should be allowed to pray in whatever way they want, not just what the Mayor of Tel Aviv decides, and that the Supreme Court should also see that their support of him was wrong, and they should also cancel their support of this rule, and that freedom of religion is the ability for everyone to pray and worship in whatever way they want, as long as they don't harm others. We didn't harm anyone; we prayed, and it was a great tefillah."

Rabbi Dee concluded: "We thank the people of Tel Aviv for their tolerance, and we request that the people of Tel Aviv go out to the streets and that they pray in groups - women, men, mixed, Muslims, Christians, Jews, whatever they want to do, and I think it would be a great thing if the people of Tel Aviv could show the mayor of Tel Aviv and the Supreme Court what is real freedom of religion, because the people decide, not the mayor."

עימותים בתפילהגל ג׳רסי, כתב גלי צה״ל

Earlier in the day, Rabbi Leo Dee, who lost his wife, Lucy, and two daughters, Rina and Maia, in a terrorist shooting attack in April, participated in a prayer service at Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv.

During the service, anti-religion protesters attempted to disrupt the prayers. One of the protesters intentionally pushed Rabbi Dee as he prayed and carried the four species.