Photo: Hesder yeshiva Jaffa
Jaffa hesder yeshiva
Photo: Hesder yeshiva Jaffa

Jaffa: Yeshiva to be built in heart of Arab neighborhood

30 Jewish hesder students to move to port city’s Arab residential area. Tel Aviv Councilman Jimmy Turk calls initiative a ‘provocation’ saying, ‘It is very unfortunate that they are doing this’

The relationship between Arabs and Jews in Jaffa has always been on thin ice, but currently, another, “potential explosion” is lurking behind the corner.


The potential cause is the founding of a hesder yeshiva (combining advanced religious studies with military service) in the heart of the Arab Ajami neighborhood, which will be officially inaugurated on Tuesday with the arrival of the Torah scroll.


The story behind the yeshiva’s creation, where 30 students are to study, was an incident that took place two years ago in which, according to the founders, one of the neighborhood’s residents was hit by her Arab neighbor.


Following the incident, representatives of the National Union-National Religious Party (NU-NRP) toured the area in an attempt to strengthen the Jewish inhabitants.


Ajami, which is adjacent to the Givat Aliya neighborhood, is almost entirely populated by Muslims.


Since the incident, religious activists have arrived in the area and started giving Torah lessons and forming “minyans” (prayer quorums) in the area synagogues.


Two weeks ago, an unordinary decision was made to establish the yeshiva, which will be operated from the Ohel Yisrael synagogue.


Due to the fact that the synagogue has no living quarters, the yeshiva’s founders rented nearby apartments with hopes of enhancing Jewish migration to the area.


At least eight yeshiva students from the West Bank will move to Jaffa.


One of the yeshiva establishers, Itzik Shoshan said, “We came to support our Jewish brothers there. We hope to expand and build something nice.


“We did not come to cause provocations and we have no problem with the Arab presence but we haven’t forgotten our Jewish brothers there,” he said.


On the flipside, the Arab neighbors bearing witness to the establishment of the yeshiva are actually quite worried.


Meretz-Yahad Tel-Aviv Councilman Jimmy Turk warned of the repercussions. “Establishing a hesder yeshiva in the heart of an Arab neighborhood is a provocation. It is very unfortunate that they are doing this.”


“This is unheard of…I would advise them to find other alternatives and not in the heart of Jaffa. There are other more fitting places than where they chose to build their yeshiva,” said Turk.


פרסום ראשון: 09.24.08, 07:51
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