Thursday, July 19, 2007

New Ethiopian Synagogue in Jerusalem & Other Local Jewish News
by Hillel Fendel (

A first-ever Ethiopian synagogue has been dedicated in Jerusalem, a missionary center was closed down in Kiryat Yam, and a synagogue dispute in Haifa will be mediated by MKs - three news items of local Jewish interest culled from HaTzofeh newspaper.

Missionary Center X-ed
In Kiryat Yam, the Yad L'Achim anti-missionary organization has succeeded, after a long struggle, in closing down a Jehova's Witnesses missionary center. Yad L'Achim had marked the Kiryat Yam office building as one of four main Jehova's Witnesses centers in the country, learning that the cult held twice-weekly lectures there for dozens of people. Pressure by Yad L'Achim and other tenants in the building finally became unbearable, and the missionary center closed down.

First Ethiopian Synagogue
Earlier this month, in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of N'vei Yaakov, the capitals' first Ethiopian synagogue was dedicated, in the presence of Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky. The New Jerusalem Foundation and members of the Ohel Nechama synagogue helped pay for the synagogue.

The synagogue, which will serve more than 170 families of Ethiopian extraction in N'vei Yaakov, is located in a previously unused section of the Bernadette public-religious school. The dedication ceremony included an emotional afternoon prayer service, replete with the customs of the Ethiopian liturgy.

The new synagogue will "improve the image of the Ethiopian immigrants," it was said at the ceremony, "and will alleviate the sense of frustration, neglect and estrangement, replacing it with feelings of pride and unity of a vital community integrating with the city and its many groups."

MKs Gafni and Beilin
In Haifa, a squabble over a synagogue between two Jewish groups has led to a Knesset committee debate and mediation by two Knesset Members: Yossi Beilin of the far-left and very secular Meretz party, and Moshe Gafni of the hareidi United Torah Judaism party.

Beilin came from the side of the neighborhood residents, who claimed that Breslover Hassidim had taken over a neighborhood synagogue and turned it into a yeshiva. Gafni and the Breslovers, on the other hand, said they were asked to help bolster synagogue attendance following the death of the local rabbi and a resulting drop in general attendance.

MKs Beilin and Gafni met on Tuesday, and plan to visit the site within the coming days.

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