Religious Zionists lead rally for rights of disabled [pg.7]

Leading social activists and religious Zionist rabbis will gather at Jerusalem's Safra Square on Thursday, the Jewish fast day of the 17th of Tamuz, to protest discrimination against the disabled. Ramat Gan Chief Rabbi Ya'acov Ariel, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner of Beit El and former deputy chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan will be among the speakers at the rally, which hopes to raise social consciousness in the light of Jewish ideals of justice and equality. The rally was organized by Ma'agalei Tzedek, an organization of young religious Zionist social activists who advocate increased emphasis on socioeconomic ideals found in Orthodox Judaism, alongside strictly religious issues such as kashrut, prayer and ritual. Ma'agalei Tzedek has created its own version of a kashrut supervision certificate, called a "social seal," presented to businesses that are accessible to disabled people and that pay their employees fairly and on time. So far, 180 businesses in the Jerusalem area have received Ma'agalei Tzedek's social seal, according to Asaf Bander, one of the group's founders. "We want Israelis to know that Judaism has something to say about the rights of the disabled, not just that you can't eat bread on Pessah," said Bander. Participants in the rally will call on the government to implement a law that calls for filling 5 percent of all government positions with disabled candidates. Ma'agalei Tzedek's membership includes both left-wing socialists and right-wing supporters of unregulated markets, said Bander. "We concentrate on issues that everyone, no matter what his or her ideological leaning, believes are essential, such as paying salaries on time, providing access to the disabled and providing equal economic opportunities.," he said. The rally is slated for the 17th of Tamuz. According to rabbinic tradition, five terrible things happened on that date: Moses broke the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments, a Roman siege on Jerusalem stopped the daily sacrifice in the Temple; the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem: Apastamus, a Roman general, openly burned a Torah scroll; and an idol was placed inside the Temple. The fast is observed from sunup to sundown Thursday.