Satmar rebbe to lay Jerusalem cornerstone
The grand rabbi of the Satmar Hassidim, Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, is slated to arrive in Israel tomorrow to lay the cornerstone of a new community housing project that will rise on the plot where Jerusalem's Edison Cinema once stood.
The Satmar Hassidim are known for their anti-Zionist stance, and the event is considered by them to be a major victory in their campaign to safeguard the sanctity of Jerusalem - free of lay symbols.
The movie theater site, which is situated close to the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Mea Shearim and Geula, was the site for decades of violent clashes between Haredim and police. It was closed 15 years ago, and the plot was sold three years ago to the Satmar Hassidim.
The Satmar community is the largest ultra-Orthodox community, which distinguishes itself from other Haredi groups in that they refuse state funding for their educational institutions.
According to estimates, the community in Israel comprises some 1,200 families, but its main center is in Kiryas Joel in New York State, where more than 20,000 people reside.
Rabbi Teitelbaum inherited the leadership of the community following the death of his father, Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, in April 2006. He lives in Williamsburg, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, long the center of Satmar life. This is his first official visit to Israel since he became grand rabbi.
The housing project will include 100 apartments and structures that will be used by the community for educational purposes.