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Jerusalem Religious Leaders Ignore Hearing on Sabbath Demonstration

September 17, 1956
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Judge Eliyahu Man, president of the public commission investigating the death of 55-year-old Pinhas Segalow during a Neturei Kartz demonstration Sept. 1, issued a blast today against religious leaders who “strengthen the hand” of the ultra-Orthodox group by refusing to testify before the commission. Other members of the inquiry group refused to associate themselves with Judge Man’s statement.

Earlier, witnesses representing the Histadrut and the left-wing Socialist Mapam testified that the majority of Jerusalem residents were not Orthodox and that the anti-Sabbath traffic demonstrations sparked by the Neturei Karta sect were not representatives of Jerusalemites. I. Klebanoff, speaking for the Mapam, warned that counterdemonstration by the anti-religious forces would gain in momentum thus aggravating the situation. He noted that taxi drivers were considering action against the Orthodox demonstrators who were interfering with their source of income.

Moshe Gewirtzman, former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem and a representative of the Hapoel Hamizrachi, challenged the assertion that the majority of Jerusalem residents were not Orthodox, pointing to school registration figures which indicated that more than 60 percent of the city’s schoolchildren were enrolled in institutions operated by the Orthodox.

The Neturei Karta has no monopoly on Sabbath demonstrations, he insisted. There is a strong feeling that unless Sabbath traffic to amusement places and swimming pools is not checked, public transportation on the Sabbath will become an accepted practice in Jerusalem.

While he deprecated the activities of the Neturei Karta, Mr. Gewirtzman said that grounds existed for continuation of the demonstrations, without which desecration of the Sabbath would spread. He opposed a suggestion by police chief Levi Abrahami that traffic be banned in three districts of the city where the Orthodox are concentrated. All of Jerusalem is holy, the Mizrachi Laborite declared, and such a proposal would only create ghettoes in Jerusalem.

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