(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A Knesset debate Wednesday on council tax exemptions for rooms adjoining synagogues that are used as study or events halls turned into a bizarre argument over Sephardi and Ashkenazi synagogue-going habits.
Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Atias turned to Kadima MK Dalia Itzik, asking, "How is it that a Sephardi woman who goes to synagogue is working against this move?"
According to Kadima sources, the startled Itzik asked Atias exactly what he meant by the remark, to which the Shas minister responded, "Sephardim go to synagogues and Ashkenazim don't."
then jumped in, saying, "My family and I are Ashkenazim and we certainly do go to synagogue."
Adding fuel to the fire, Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush (UTJ) attacked Kadima for its opposition to the exemption, saying, "A believing person cannot be a Kadima member."
Eventually, the exemption was approved in a preliminary reading by 60 MKs to 24.
Speaking to Army Radio after the session, Atias admitted having a confrontation with Itzik, but denied saying Ashkenazim don't go to synagogue.