Rabbis in the central city of Rosh Ha'ayin plan to turn Israel's Independent Day into a demonstration of prayers "in protest of immorality and in order to give the people a religious rather than a secular folklore."
The decision was made after the municipality turned down the rabbis' demand to cancel the city's Independence Day celebrations.
The rabbis also warned the public against the "immorality hurting the sacredness of the people of Israel."
On eve of Independence Day, which will take place April 19, the municipality is planning central stage shows, including a musical featuring hundreds of male and female dancers, singers and actors. Singer Yardena Arazi is scheduled to perform at the local amphitheater at midnight.
An announcement signed by 23 rabbis, including Chief Rabbi Azaria Basis, reads: "As Independence Day includes celebration mixing men and women in immodest shows, bordering on dreadful immorality, we must warn that it is completely forbidden to attend celebrations and shows of recklessness and immorality. Thus, each fearing God and the education of his sons and daughters must avoid going to those places and prevent the members of his household from doing so."
'Programs of secular nature only'In light of the municipality's refusal to cancel the celebrations, the rabbis announced this week that Independence Day would turn into a demonstration of prayers, and have even called on the public to visit synagogues instead of taking part in the celebrations.
The rabbis said in a statement, "The religious public feels deprived as it is interested in taking part in the Independence Day celebrations, which symbolize the State of Israel's unity. However, the local authority is preventing us from participating, because the planned programs are of a secular nature only. In light of the situation, Bnei Akiva will be celebrating in a closed hall, separately."
The municipality said in response, "Independence Day celebrations in Rosh Ha'ayin, as in any other place, are held together with men, women, youth and children. It is unthinkable that any element would dictate a separation between families and force segregation during the celebrations. This is the way the independence celebrations were held in the past and the way they will be held in the future as well."