Jerusalem honored by the Satmar Rebbe

A royal visit: The Satmar Rebbe makes a historical visit to Jerusalem

SATMAR GRAND RABBI Zalman Teitelbaum (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
SATMAR GRAND RABBI Zalman Teitelbaum
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
For many Jerusalemites, this historic visit will be mostly remembered as the visit that caused some of the most gigantic traffic jams in a city already blocked by road works most of the day. Zalman Teitelbaum, the grand rabbi of Satmar – the large, wealthy and very anti-Zionist hassidic sect – arrived to visit his followers in Israel, sending the Jewish state’s capital into a frenzy to organize, secure, facilitate and – some might say – honor the visitor.
Officially, Safra Square’s attitude is neutral – this is a visit that will demand a lot of attention, Thousands of members of the hassidic sect from their original hometown in Williamsburg as well as the thousands who live here require special police and security units, and there is no way anybody in charge will take any risk.
The major aim of the visit is to bring money – we’re talking about dozens of millions of dollars to the members of the several hassidic sects who form the Eda Haredit, better known as Neturei Karta. These people are against Zionism and against the establishment of the State of Israel (which they consider as a dangerous offence against other nations), and therefore, they do not accept any money from the government. In order to show them his support, the Grand Rabbi of Satmar has come to bring money and encourage them.
Faithful to his anti-Zionist position, he didn’t include the entire Old City – let alone the Western Wall and the Temple Mount – in his itinerary, and is slated to spend most of his 10-day visit in Mea She’arim, as well as two short visits to Bnei Brak and to Meron.
It is interesting to note that the reactions to this unusual visit differ among the various communities in the city.
Among the Lithuanian groups, only the “Peleg Yerushalmi” are happy about it. City council member Chaim Epstein (Bnei Torah), who represents the “Peleg Yerushalmi” on the council, said that although he is not a hassid, he is very happy about the visit. He wished the rabbi all the best and expressed his support for the rabbi’s aim – to financially support those who refuse to enroll in the IDF, just like his own community.
“I wish we could always host such a great person in Jerusalem,” Epstein said, adding that “the rabbi, who represents thousands of Jews who wish to hold to their traditions, is at the head of a community renowned for its charity actions, and that is what is most important.”
City council members Dr. Laura Wharton (Meretz) and Ofer Berkovitch (head of the opposition with Hitorerut) are both strongly opposed to the municipality honoring a virulent anti-Zionist, whose visit is causing heavy traffic that only adds to the harsh conditions residents already deal with. Berkovitch added that he cannot understand why Mayor Moshe Lion has allowed such disruption to daily life. Wharton asserted, “So what if he has a lot of supporters here? The Beitar Jerusalem soccer club also has a lot of followers!”
For most of the haredim (Lithuanian, as well as some hassidim), “This visit is just another burden added to their already difficult daily experience in a city that has become a large construction site,” said yeshiva teacher B. Cohen.