Vishnitz Hasidim Battle Over a Birthright and Build a Very Big Tent

The complex has 180 toilet stalls, an air-conditioner weighing 840 tons and 470 light fixtures.

The Vishnitz Hasidim are preparing for an influx of the sect's followers from Israel and abroad ahead of the High Holy Days by building a 3,000-square-meter tent in a vacant lot in Bnei Brak.

This year, the Vishnitz Hasidim will temporarily leave their center in Bnei Brak's Kiryat Vishnitz neighborhood and move to the tent complex on Ezra Street. The tent has 2,300 seats for men, another 1,500 places for standing room in bleachers and seating for 1,700 in the women's section.

The complex has 180 toilet stalls, an air-conditioner weighing 840 tons and 470 light fixtures. Three movable structures in the lot will serve as the temporary home of the movement's grand rabbi.

The central study house of the Vishnitz Hasidim, with seating for 1,200 men, is too small for all the Vishnitzers expected to come from Israel and abroad to pray near their rabbi. However, the tent is also connected to a well-publicized split between Rabbi Israel Hager and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager, the two sons of the ailing, 93-year-old Vishnitz grand rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager. The sons have been fighting for years over the right to succeed their father.

Associates of Rabbi Israel Hager, who decided on the construction of the tent, say it will establish him as heir to his father.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel has his own institutions in the community, and the split is all but final, but his followers, too, will pray in the tent.

The Hasidim may purchase a place in the tent for between NIS 200 for women to NIS 1,700 for men. The latter price is for seats closest to the grand rabbi, although he is expected to remain most of the time in a mobile adjacent structure.

The tent's construction was approved by elected municipal officials but not by the city's planning department. Speaking for the legal adviser to the local planning committee, a municipal official told Haaretz that a permit was not required from the planning authorities because the structures are temporary.