Mayors of secular, haredi Orthodox towns spar over city attractions

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The mayors of the largely secular city of Modi’in and the haredi Orthodox community of Modi’in Ilit are arguing about opening their cities’ attractions to each other’s residents. 

Modi’in Mayor Haim Bibas threatened on Tuesday to bar the residents of Modi’in Ilit from his city’s main park unless its mayor, Yaakov Gutterman, agrees to allow Modi’in residents into a newly developed archaeological site in his city, Haaretz reported

Gutterman told the haredi Orthodox newspaper Yated Neeman last week that the site, believed to have been an agricultural village from the Second Temple period and proclaimed a national heritage site by the government in 2011, would be open only to the haredi Orthodox public. 

“The site will be open only to the ultra-Orthodox public, which will keep it a proper place for them to visit and connect to their Jewish roots, without the distortions and disruptions of other places, where there is fear of hearing false opinions,” he wrote.

The government had announced last year that the site was to serve the haredi community, Haaretz reported.

Bibas responded on Tuesday that since his city’s central park opened “thousands of Modi’in Ilit-Kiryat Sefer residents have visited it, since your city doesn’t provide adequate family recreation facilities. Up to now, I have refrained from discriminating between ultra-Orthodox and secular visitors, despite the multitude of petitions by Modi’in residents complaining that the park is being taken from them.”
 

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