Monday, 24 December 2012

Jewish Religious Leaders Angered By Jerusalem Christmas Tree

The Jerusalem Post reports that haredi leaders were outraged when the City of Jerusalem allowed a large Christmas tree to be displayed at Jaffa Gate last week, the main entrance to the Old City for many Jews and Armenians.

The permit was issued to a private individual for three days and expired last Thursday. The permit-holder promptly removed the tree.

“It’s an awful thing that there was a Christmas tree at the opening of Jaffa Gate. Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel. Yes, this is a place for haredim, Jews, Christians and Muslims, and there is no doubt that there’s a holiday, but the best place to celebrate it is in their churches and in their homes,” Jerusalem City Council Member Shmuel Yitzhaki of the Sefardi haredi Shas party told the Post.

“Since Jerusalem has a Christian Quarter, why are they putting it at Jaffa Gate, which is the central place for Jews and the way to get to Temple Mount?” Yitzhaki asked, calling the Christmas tree “idol worship,” and forgetting that Jaffa Gate leads directly into the Armenian Quarter, which is populated by Armenian Christians.

The city said that the tree was not meant to be a provocation.

“This tree is just like when the municipality put hanukkiot [menorahs] around the city during Hanukkah,” a city spokesman said. “This is a city of three religions, and it was done as a sign of respect, not to harass or annoy anyone.”

Even so, this is the first time in many years that the city has allowed a Christmas tree to be placed in front of Jaffa Gate.

Yesterday, the city continued a holiday gesture it has done for many years – it distributed Christmas trees free of charge to Jerusalem residents.

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