Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

8 Adar 5759 - Feb. 24, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







UTJ Faction in Ashdod Announces that it Will Not Join the Municipal Coalition

by B. Rabinowitz

The UTJ faction in the Ashdod City Council has announced that it will not join the municipal coalition. Their decision was reached due to rulings the municipality has issued which hurt most of the city's residents, the majority of whom are loyal to Jewish tradition. Chief among the offensive decrees is the demand of the city's mayor, Tzvi Zilker, that the UTJ representatives sign a coalition agreement expressing their consent to open stores on Shabbos, as well as not to close stores which sell pork.

UTJ representatives Rabbi Osher Levi and Rabbi Ephraim Weber made their views known when the mayor publicly turned to them at last week's press conference. At the conference, the mayor called upon the UTJ representatives to join the coalition. Responding, the representatives enumerated their reasons for not joining the coalition.

They declared: "Until now, the mayor has disregarded the representatives of UTJ, despite the pledge he made prior to the elections to include UTJ in the coalition and to safeguard the interests of the religious residents of the city. The public is shocked by the mayor's debasing behavior toward the members of the UTJ faction, with whom he did not consent to deliberate prior to the presentation of the budget, although they had supported him in the elections.

"UTJ's representatives, who were not present when the budget was being formulated, have now been asked to sign the coalition agreements and to consent to the opening of stores in the industrial region on Shabbos, and to not closing the city's pork stores," they continued. They also noted that at the press conference, Zilker announced that he was planning to hold many more cultural activities on Shabbos.

Regarding the budget, UTJ's representatives say that this is the first year that the budget for synagogues and religious structures has been cut, while the budget for the development of educational and religious institutions has been totally eliminated. In addition, no ongoing budget for religious institutions has been approved, and the budget of the Chareidi Education Department has been canceled.

At the end of their announcement, which was endorsed by the Association of Directors of Torah Institutions in Ashdod, UTJ's representatives said: "We hereby declare that it is inconceivable for us to join the coalition under such intolerable conditions. We will fight tooth and nail until these difficult decrees, which hurt most of the residents of the city who are loyal to the tradition of Israel, are canceled."

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