Religious Council building in Holon
Photo: Yoav Zitun

Did golden calf cause Carmel blaze?

Poster at Holon Religious Council, building funded by Israeli public, blames deadly fire on debauchery and desecration of Shabbat. 'I understand that it offends people, so we'll take it down,' says religious council chief, adding that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef did say blaze was result of desecration of Shabbat

Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who didn't trouble himself over the lack of advanced fire and rescue services, is not guilty. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who ignored those very same issues is not responsible.


Even fate which placed the prison service officers' bus at the center of the blaze or the two teens who are suspected of throwing a burning ember – have nothing to do with the fire and its appalling consequences. A poster at the Holon Rabbinate offices explains that the Carmel fire was caused due to the holding of pagan rituals, debauchery, adultery and desecration of Shabbat.


For a few days now, the colorful poster claiming that the Carmel fire took place due, among other things, to the "golden calf ceremony" held in Ein Hod and the fact that the towns in the Carmel region "bake pita bread over the Passover holiday" has been hanging at the entrance to the Religious Council building in Holon, an institution which is kept thanks to public funding.


"Why did the country burn?" the heading on the poster read while colorful pictures underneath it detailed the reasons for the fire that claimed the lives of 44 people.


"Idolatry of the golden calf, by hundreds and thousands in the artists' village of Ein Hod, turning the entire torah of Israel into a joke, baking pita bread during the Passover holiday out of spite, massive desecration of the Sabbath, debauchery and adultery by the thousands; how could God not burn the region?"

Poster at Holon rabbinate offices (Photo: Yoav Zitun)


The poster includes a picture of a golden calf, put on display during an art festival held at the artists' village damaged by the fire. Another picture is that of a woman with a veil and blurred face, making a Druze pita with a caption that reads: "Baking pitas with Arabs during Passover".


Offensive and hurtful

The Holon Religious Council is home to the headquarters of the city's rabbi – Avraham Yosef, son of Shas' spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef who, when the fire broke out claimed that desecration of the Sabbath was the cause. The same poster, which also appears at a number of haredi sites, greets dozens of couples, both religious and secular who come to the rabbinate to register for marriage.


"It's a shame that while waiting for my wedding witnesses to arrive, I need to get an embarrassing reminder of the groundless and bizarre claims," said one man waiting for a license.


"I don't want to think what would go through the mind of someone who lost a relative in the fire and came in here to register for marriage. This is offensive and hurtful to the sensibilities of the population that isn't religious and doesn't believe speculations like the ones on the poster."


Following complaints, the head of the Holon religious council and Shas party member Amos Barnes in a conversation with Ynet, promised that the poster would be removed. "We respect the people that hung the poster, so it remained there for a few days and then it's taken off. I didn't really get to see it because I was abroad, but I did see a picture of a calf," he admitted.


"I understand that it offends people, so we'll take it down," he added. Yet, he also mentioned Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's statements hinting that the desecration of the Sabbath caused the fire: "That week when it happened, the rabbi said there was desecration of the Sabbath, and that is one of the things that bring catastrophes upon the state of Israel, not the fire in particular but road accidents as well. These aren't my statements – great rabbis who quote the scriptures said them. The statements are written clearly."


Ein Hod residents weren't concerned over the poster, one of the residents noting cynically: "Our neighbors from the religious town of Nir Etzion heard the claims too and asked, never mind you sinners, but what did the orphans in Yemin Orde do?"


Ahiya Raved contributed to the report



פרסום ראשון: 01.07.11, 08:20
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