Leaders slam mayor who nixed disabled kids bar mitzvah

Masorti leaders lambasted an Israeli mayor who canceled a bar mitzvah for disabled boys because the venue was a non-Orthodox synagogue.

Rahamim Malul, a former lawmaker for the Orthodox Shas party and current mayor of the Tel Aviv suburb of Rehovot, prevented the bar mitzvah, which was planned for April 30, because the venue was the city’s Masorti synagogue, according to the news site Walla.co.il.

“To slam a door on a Jewish teen at the moment they are about to enter the fellowship of the Jewish People is terrible; to do so to a young person with disabilities is unforgivable,” Yizhar Hess, the executive director of the Masorti movement in Israel, wrote in a statement this week.

Like Israel’s relatively small Reform Jewish communities, the smaller Masorti communities, which are analogous to Conservative congregations in North America, have been waging a legal and public relations battle for equal treatment by the Orthodox establishment and tolerance by Orthodox Jews.

But the city defended its actions, citing the fact that the ceremony was organized by a public school, Lotem High School for children with special needs, with pupils from Orthodox families, who opposed the selection of a Masorti synagogue and could not participate for that reason.

“Let any parent have a bar mitzvah for their children wherever they want, but not through a public school whose actions are supposed to be consensus,” a municipality spokesman told Walla. — jta


Content distributed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news service.