J'lem: Christmas tree fails to cheer haredim

The city issued a permit to a private individual to set up a tree for three days last week.

December 23, 2012 02:05
1 minute read.
Celebrants dressed as Santa at J'lem's Mamilla

Celebrants dressed as Santa at J'lem's Mamilla Mall 370. (photo credit: Sarah Levin)


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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.

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“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 “idol worship.”

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 annoy anyone.”

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.

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