'My motto is Live and Let Live'

Rehovots new haredi may

Rahamim Maloul 248.88 (photo credit: )
Rahamim Maloul 248.88
(photo credit: )
Rahamim Maloul, the newly elected haredi mayor of predominantly secular Rehovot, said Thursday that Anglo and secular residents did not have to be concerned about the haredization of the city. "My motto in politics is 'live and let live' and as a mayor I will foster unity and cooperation," said Maloul, a former Shas MK, who ran for mayor on a Likud ticket. "On the eve of the elections, I spoke at Kehilat Berman [an Orthodox Anglo shul in Rehovot] and I received a very positive reception," he added. Maloul said that he would work towards maintaining the present status quo between religious, haredi and secular residents of the city. He would also continue to support the city's many educational institutions including the Weizman Institute and Hebrew University's Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment. "I plan on being everyone's mayor, whether they are Anglo, Ethiopian, haredi or secular," he said. Maloul said that judging from the poll results many secular residents voted for him. "I received a lot of votes from the rich northern section of the city," he noted. Maloul's victory was accompanied by infighting between different haredi groups. Degel Hatorah, which represents the Lithuanian haredi yeshiva world, supported Uri Salant while Hassidim supported Maloul. Shas did not come out openly in support of Maloul due to an old rivalry. Maloul is a close ally of former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri. When Deri was forced to leave Shas, all of Deri's supporters, including Maloul, were purged from the party. However, Maloul said that he would hold no grudges. "I am not the type to seek revenge," said Maloul. Ruth Lavie, co-chair person of Adat Shalom-Emanuel Masorti Synagogue in Rehovot, hopes that the new mayor will become acquainted with the synagogue. "I hope that he will take it upon himself to get to know us, it will be worth his while to get to know us, and we'd be happy to work with him," Lavie told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. "It's an exciting place to be," she said. "Something new is happening every day. We have a lot of outreach, we are a lot more than just a place to come pray." From a synagogue choir to community lectures to holiday celebrations, the synagogue, now celebrating its 40th year, prides itself on being the center of a warm and caring community. Under the guidance of Rabbi Jeff Cymet, the Masorti synagogue is also the only congregation between Rishon Lezion and Ashdod offering a bat mitzva for females. "I hope that he will be an open minded mayor of all the citizens here" Lavie told the Post, "As a religious man, I hope he wants to get to know what we are all about." Elections in Rehovot took place after the former mayor, Shuky Forer, was forced to step down in a corruption scandal. Last November, Forer was voted in for a third term after a second round of voting. An investigation against him, for supplying municipal work without a tender to a contractor who had contributed money to one of Forer's previous election campaigns, had culminated in an indictment shortly before the election. And on December 31, 2008, Forer pleaded guilty in a plea bargain to breach of trust. He was forced to leave office at the end of March after the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court ruled that his crimes constituted moral turpitude. Tali Minsberg contributed to this report.