A major rally protesting the draft of Israeli yeshiva students has been canceled
due to security concerns in the wake of last week’s Boston Marathon bombing, a
spokesman for Agudath Israel of America told The Jerusalem Post
. The rally,
scheduled for Sunday in downtown Manhattan, was intended as a forum for prayers
for “heavenly mercy” in the face of the possibility that full-time yeshiva
students may be required to serve in the Israeli army.
Such an expansion
of the draft would be “a devastating body blow against Klal Yisroel’s [the
Jewish collective’s] lofty status as the Am HaTorah [nation of Torah],” wrote
Agudath Israel’s executive vice president Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel in a letter
promoting the event.
“The main purposes of the [gathering] will be to
help our own community better understand the nature of the [woes] facing our
brethren in Eretz Yisroel if the proposed new policy is implemented, to express
our deep concern about this development, and to pray for heavenly mercy in the
face of this impending decree,” he explained.
In announcing the rally,
Zwiebel emphasized that it was not meant to be a “demonstration or protest
against the State of Israel, or an effort to enlist the American public or the
American government in a campaign to fight the proposed new law.”
Agudath Israel was not a sponsor of the rally, Zwiebel said, it “nonetheless
enjoys the strong backing of Agudath Israel’s rabbinic
According to a report on the ultra-Orthodox website Yeshiva
World News, unnamed sources indicated that Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, a
leading figure in Israeli ultra-Orthodoxy was against holding the
Agudath Israel spokesman Rabbi Avi Shafran confirmed YWN’s report
of the event’s cancelation, but said it was due to “security concerns in the
wake of the terrible terror attack earlier this week in Boston.”
senior ultra-Orthodox rabbis, Shafran told the Post on Friday, “felt that now
would not be an appropriate time to gather masses of visibly Jewish Jews into
one area for such an [event].”
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