Israeli Transportation Minister promote to promote public transportation on Shabbat on Tuesday, telling Haaretz’s Conference on Democracy that she and her colleagues would work to revise the religious status quo on the issue “with all our might.”
In a conversation with Haaretz journalist Shany Littman, Minister Merav Michaeli called the entire Israeli public transit system “out of date,” stating that her vision is to create a revamped system in which “we get to a point where from any point, public transportation takes less time than by private car.”
“We brought in many billions for that, and now we need to bring in good professionals," she said, referring to increased investment in infrastructure and reforms to the transit system included in the recently passed state budget.
Michaeli’s statement will likely generate intense opposition among the ultra-Orthodox, whose leaders have vigorously protested various reforms passed by the new government, including increased taxes on single use plastic cutlery, cuts to childcare benefits, and efforts to permit non-Orthodox prayer at the Western Wall and end the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly on kosher certification and the conversion process.
In response to support for mixed prayer at the Western Wall by Foreign Minister Lapid and Finance Minister Lieberman, Shas chairman Arye Dery described the comments as a "declaration of war against the country's Jewish identity."
In a statement delivered during a live-streamed Torah lecture on Saturday evening, prominent ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Meir Mazuz blamed Lieberman for pushing some of the changes to the longstanding status quo.
“You have to know that what is happening to us is no less than what happened in Russia. Liberman comes from Russia and in Russia there is no religion, there is no God, nothing, [they are] complete heretics,” Mazuz, the head of the Tunisian Jewish community in Israel, said, adding that “Reform Jews destroyed the people of Israel.”
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Last month, Chief rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef stated in a public letter that efforts to end the rabbinate monopoly on kosher certification reflected a “trend towards the displacement of Judaism of Israel, another step in making Israel a state of all its citizens” and warned of “spiritual destruction under the guise of this reform.”