Celebrants dressed as Santa at J'lem's Mamilla Mall 370.
(photo credit: Sarah Levin)
Haredi leaders expressed fury on Saturday night with the Jerusalem
Municipality’s decision to allow a large Christmas tree to be displayed next to
Jaffa Gate at the entrance to the Old City.
The city issued a permit to a
private individual to set up a tree for three days last week. The permit ended
on Thursday and the permit-holder removed the tree.
“It’s an awful thing
that there was a Christmas tree at the opening of Jaffa Gate,” City Councilor
Shmuel Yitzhaki (Shas) said. “Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel.
Yes, this is a place for haredim, Jews, Christians and Muslims, and there is no
doubt that there’s a holiday, but the best place to celebrate it is in their
churches and in their homes.
“Since Jerusalem has a Christian Quarter,
why are they putting it at Jaffa Gate, which is the central place for Jews and
the way to get to Temple Mount?” Yitzhaki asked. He called the Christmas tree
A spokesman at the municipality said that the tree was
not meant to be provocative.
“This tree is just like when the
municipality put hanukkiot around the city during Hanukka,” he said. “This is a
city of three religions, and it was done as a sign of respect, not to harass or
This is the first time in years that city hall has allowed
a Christmas tree in front of Jaffa Gate.
On Sunday, the municipality will
distribute Christmas trees free of charge to Jerusalem residents, a traditional
holiday gesture the municipality has made for many years.