Haredim in Bnei Brak.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
In a rare step, the secretary of the Degel Hatorah Council of Torah sages appealed to his counterpart in Agudat Yisrael to call its representatives to order and reduce the tensions that have arisen between the two haredi parties over the upcoming municipal elections in October.
For the first time in 30 years, Degel Hatorah and Agudah will not be running on the joint United Torah Judaism slate in Jerusalem, and will also be running separately in Haifa, Beitar Illit and Elad.
Degel Hatorah has actually come to an agreement with Shas
for mutual support of their respective candidates in those cities, at the expense of Agudah candidates such as Yossi Daitsch who is running for mayor of Jerusalem, and Israel Porush in Elad.
On Wednesday, Jerusalem Municipal Council member Yaakov Halperin of Agudah issued a broadside attack against Degel Hatorah and Yaakov Kanievsky, the grandson of the most senior rabbi of the “Lithuanian” non-hassidic haredi community, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky.
Yaakov Kanievsky is the most influential member of his grandfather’s court and retinue, and Halperin lambasted him on the Kol Barama radio station for essentially running the affairs of Degel Hatorah through his grandfather’s authority and doing what is in his own interests.
Later on Wednesday, Avraham Rubenstein, secretary of the Degel Hatorah Council of Torah Sages which Kanievsky heads, wrote a letter to the secretary of Agudah’s Council of Torah Sages Yaakov Valtzer calling on Agudah to rein in its representatives.
“A regrettable and embarrassing situation has been created in which some of Agudat Yisrael’s representatives are speaking for themselves to various media outlets and are fanning terrible flames of dispute between the community of God-fearing people, through the shameful disparagement of our great rabbis,” wrote Rubenstein.
He called on Valtzer to ensure that the election campaign is conducted “fairly, with understanding and mutual respect” and said that he would himself work to preserve haredi unity from his end.
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