NY haredim cancel Manhattan anti-draft rally

Agudath Israel cites ‘security concerns’ in wake of Boston bombing; not appropriate time for masses of Jews to gather.

Haredi with IDF soldiers 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
Haredi with IDF soldiers 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
A major rally protesting the draft of Israeli yeshiva students has been canceled due to security concerns in the wake of last week’s Boston Marathon bombing, a spokesman for Agudath Israel of America told The Jerusalem Post. The rally, scheduled for Sunday in downtown Manhattan, was intended as a forum for prayers for “heavenly mercy” in the face of the possibility that full-time yeshiva students may be required to serve in the Israeli army.
Such an expansion of the draft would be “a devastating body blow against Klal Yisroel’s [the Jewish collective’s] lofty status as the Am HaTorah [nation of Torah],” wrote Agudath Israel’s executive vice president Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel in a letter promoting the event.
“The main purposes of the [gathering] will be to help our own community better understand the nature of the [woes] facing our brethren in Eretz Yisroel if the proposed new policy is implemented, to express our deep concern about this development, and to pray for heavenly mercy in the face of this impending decree,” he explained.
In announcing the rally, Zwiebel emphasized that it was not meant to be a “demonstration or protest against the State of Israel, or an effort to enlist the American public or the American government in a campaign to fight the proposed new law.”
While Agudath Israel was not a sponsor of the rally, Zwiebel said, it “nonetheless enjoys the strong backing of Agudath Israel’s rabbinic leadership.”
According to a report on the ultra-Orthodox website Yeshiva World News, unnamed sources indicated that Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, a leading figure in Israeli ultra-Orthodoxy was against holding the event.
Agudath Israel spokesman Rabbi Avi Shafran confirmed YWN’s report of the event’s cancelation, but said it was due to “security concerns in the wake of the terrible terror attack earlier this week in Boston.”
The senior ultra-Orthodox rabbis, Shafran told the Post on Friday, “felt that now would not be an appropriate time to gather masses of visibly Jewish Jews into one area for such an [event].”