Ben-Gvir, Anti-Government Protesters to Organize Opposing Prayer Gatherings
Following a series of altercations in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities during Yom Kippur over gender-segregated prayers in public spaces, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and protest organization Kaplan Force have announced plans for opposing evening prayer services in Dizengoff Square, Tel Aviv. The main point of contention occurred in Dizengoff Square when some worshippers set up a partition to segregate men and women during the Kol Nidrei prayer, in direct violation of a prohibition on segregation by the municipality and the High Court. The situation escalated into violence, resulting in the arrest of two individuals.
The Call to Prayer
In light of these incidents, Ben-Gvir announced his intention to hold a prayer service at the same location on Thursday at 5 p.m. In a video message, he invited all Jews, irrespective of their background or religiosity level, to join him. He stressed that prayer is a right for everyone in a Jewish nation. His call has, however, been met with opposition.
Countering the Call
Responding to Ben-Gvir’s announcement, the Kaplan Force announced its plan to hold a separate prayer service an hour-and-a-half later. The group advocates for the democracy and unity of Israel and plans to conduct their gathering without any gender segregation. Unlike Ben-Gvir’s service, the Kaplan Force’s gathering has received official approval from the Tel Aviv Municipality.
A Mayor’s Stand
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai has been vocal about the Yom Kippur incidents, stating that gender segregation in public spaces goes against the city’s nature. He affirmed that he would not allow such segregation and that events failing to respect this principle would not receive municipal approval.
Despite the clear stance of the municipality, it remains unclear whether Ben-Gvir’s prayer service will include gender segregation. He has not responded to requests for comment on this matter, leaving the issue in a state of uncertainty. As Israel grapples with the delicate balance between religious traditions and public space usage, the events at Dizengoff Square serve as a microcosm of these complex societal tensions.
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