Rabbis meet with Peres

Request two days to reach a compromise in Emmanuel, lament religious tension.

Peres meets with Rabbis 311 (photo credit: Moshe Milner, GPO)
Peres meets with Rabbis 311
(photo credit: Moshe Milner, GPO)
At a meeting with President Shimon Peres on Thursday morning, Deputy Education Minister Rabbi Meier Porush, at whose request the meeting was held, burst into tears of anguish and frustration at the growing rift and hostility between different segments of the haredi population and between the haredi and secular communities.
The two rabbis were requesting a two-day delay in the execution of the high court's order that 43 couples from Emmanuel be imprisoned for contempt of court.
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The two Rabbis had turned to Peres they said, in the hope of finding a viable solution to the crisis in Emmanuel and the deteriorating relations between the haredi and secular communities.
Israel Prize laureate and Rabbi of Migdal Ha'Emek Rabbi Itzhak David Grossman, who accompanied Porush, said that Israel has sufficient external enemies. "We don't have to destroy ourselves from within."
Each assured Peres that they are utterly opposed to any form of discrimination, and that they respect the High Court of Justice, even if they sometimes disagree with its rulings.
What they hoped for at this time, was a two-day delay in the execution of the court's order that 43 couples from Emmanuel be imprisoned unless they comply with the Court's instruction to return their daughters to the Beit Ya'acov school from which they extricated them on the grounds that the school's religious standards were not sufficiently stringent.
Porush and Grossman told Peres that they believed that if they were given two days in which to talk to the parents, they could come up with some kind of solution which would be acceptable to all concerned.
They were particularly worried about the families of 43 pairs of parents, especially since most of the parents have large broods and some of the women who are to be imprisoned are in various stages of pregnancy.
Peres, was no less concerned, and had in fact spent the morning prior to the meeting talking to legal authorities to find if there was some way to ease the situation for the mothers, or whether it was necessary for both parents to go to jail.
But he made it clear when talking to Porush and Grossman, that as much as he sympathized with the plight of children who would be temporarily deprived of both parents, the law is the law, and the ruling of the court must be respected and upheld.
He also left no doubt that he considered any form of racism and discrimination intolerable. All people are made in the image of God, he said, and no-one has a right to claim superiority over the other.
Peres issued a called, endorsed by Porush and Grossman, that all sides in the Emmanuel crisis and the secular-religious conflict exercise maximum restraint and practice mutual respect.
Differences of opinion, and public demonstrations were permissible said Peres, but any hint of racism was not, nor was it permissible to be in contempt of the High Court of Justice. "All citizens of Israel must respect the rulings of the High Court of Justice," said Peres.
Grossman lamented not only the divisiveness among different streams of Israel's society, but also the effect that haredi protest demonstrations would have on the health of the ailing and aged Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, the decisive voice of the Lithuanian haredi community who had announced his participation in the massive protest demonstration.
Nonetheless, he added, Eliashiv's participation sent out a significant message.