After declaring war on migrants from Eritrea and north Sudan and calling them a" threat just as severe as (the) Iranian nuclear threat,' Interior Minister Eli Yishai takes the battle to a new arena: The synagogues in south Tel Aviv, which suffer from continuing neglect and vandalism of illegal migrants who reside in the area.
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In a letter addressed to Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai, Yishai accused the illegal migrants of turning the synagogues into toilets and called upon Huldai to preserve the synagogues in light of "the many complaints my office receives about the state of these synagogues."
In the letter Yishai described "the stench, the disrepair, synagogues converted into pubs, bars and sometimes even toilets by the migrants and illegal aliens while local Jewish worshippers are banished. It's almost unheard of to find enough people to form a minyan for prayer in the area.
"I'm certain that had similar news been broadcast about neglect in synagogues abroad, the world and surely Israel would be shocked and act immediately to fix the situation," he added.
"As Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yaffo who is entrusted with safeguarding the synagogues within its municipal area including south Tel Aviv, I ask you to act to preserve them as small temples and give them the respect that they and we deserve," Yishai wrote.
Tel Aviv City Council member Shlomo Maslawi, who is also head of the South Tel Aviv Residents' Committee, has also complained about this situation. "Our synagogues which symbolize the traditional, Jewish nature of these neighborhoods have hit rock bottom," he said.
"It's a harsh symbol of the loss of Jewish identity in these neighborhoods. The religious and traditional people leave the area, the spirit of Jewish holidays is diminishing and there are no synagogues left… It makes no sense that decision makers are enabling the annihilation of Jewish culture while neglecting the synagogues and the locals."
The Tel Aviv Municipality said that Yishai's plea has been forwarded to the Religious Council and that "the issue of synagogues and their maintenance is not under the city's jurisdiction but under the responsibility and budget of the Ministry of Religious Affairs which is entrusted with the matter."
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