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'Great nuisance.' Bnei Brak street
Photo: Yaron Brener
Bnei Brak rabbis: Don't rent to refugees
Six of ultra-Orthodox city's religious leaders sign halachic ruling forbidding locals to rent apartments to Africans. 'Yeshiva students scared to walk on street at night,' says neighborhood rabbi, calling upsurge in Sudanese residents a 'spiritual danger'

A few months after the publication of a rabbis' petition calling to avoid renting apartments in Tel Aviv to African immigrants, rabbis in Bnei Brak issue a similar halachic ruling Monday, prohibiting residents to rent out apartments in the religious city and its surroundings to African refugees and illegal immigrants at large.

 

According to the halachic ruling, signed by six leading rabbis from the city's haredi sector, "This appeal is against a horrible act of lawlessness, by which apartment owners rent their property to illegal immigrants etc'. This phenomenon has grown into gigantic proportions, and nowadays the situation is intolerable," it read.

 

"It is not only a general nuisance but leads to more serious problems. Families have already appealed to us over fears they have for their children", stated the law which included a clear warning: "Those who rent out the apartments (to the immigrants) take responsibility for spiritual consequences on their heads be it".

 

One of the signatories, Pardes Katz Rabbi Menashe Zelicha, told Ynet: "The Sudanese refugees have become a great nuisance for the residents. Some residents felt uncomfortable in Tel Aviv, where the secular public has more access to the media. (The public) expressed resentment and made them feel unwanted, so one of them came here and called over all his friends."

 

Rabbi Zelicha claimed that "if it was only two or three Sudanese, then they would not have been noticed. But this is a neighborhood with 40,000 residents, and we're talking about a few thousand (refugees). They walk around bored, gather on street corners and drink beer. Yeshiva students turned to me and said they were scared to walk on the streets at night; it is a spiritual danger, and Pardes Katz has turned into Sudan."

 

The neighborhood's rabbi also lamented that one of the residents turned to him, complaining that a few of the refugees harassed his daughter: "It spoils the neighborhood's spirituality. Our young guys are drawn to them, and go speak with them. We are not against the Sudanese; the government must take care of them – either by building them their own neighborhoods, or by deporting them," Zelicha argued.

 

'Don't want assimilation'

Bnei Brak City Council member Gedalyahu Ben Shimon noted that the refugees and illegal workers are the ones suffering injustice. "The State doesn't give them a respectable place, and allows them to assimilate in the haredi public – which is known to be conservative and isolates itself from the street.

 

"We don't want assimilation inside haredi communities. During last Yom Kippur we noticed many foreign workers sitting around, smoking hookahs and drinking beers on the main street, which is usually shut on this day," Ben Shimon added.

 

The councilman stressed that this sort of behavior was disrespectful toward the haredi public. "There isn't a single Jew that would agree to desecrate this holiday, which is so important to the Jewish people. They didn't even know it was a day of complete rest, and thought people were yelling at them for no reason.

 

"The State needs to rehabilitate them in welfare and education institutions. Currently, their human dignity is being ridiculed, because they are good and nice people. The haredi public knows how to accept and love the other, but when it's not right – it's just not right," he said.

 

 

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