Barbecues defy taboos as nation mourns Holocaust

100 yeshiva students ordered to abandon their cook-up at site of memorial for those who died in the IDF and Shoah

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustration. Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men seen doing barbecue. (photo credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
Illustration. Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men seen doing barbecue. (photo credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

Dozens of ultra-Orthodox people gathered in a central Jerusalem park to enjoy barbecues on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday night, breaching a taboo on public celebrations over the solemn day.

Elsewhere, in the north of the country, 100 ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students began a festive BBQ event in Beit She’an close to a memorial site dedicated to fallen IDF soldiers and victims of the Nazi-inflicted Shoah.

Police who arrived at the scene found two busloads of 14-17 year-old students from the Or Baroch yeshiva along with their teachers, the Kikar Hashabbat website reported. The children had been on a hike in the Jordan Park area before arriving at the memorial site to eat.

Police detained two of the teachers and ordered the gathering to disperse.

Sources in the Or Baroch yeshiva told Kikar Hashabbat that the mass barbecue had not been a good idea.

“The administration should have considered a million times over before doing a hike like this; it is a disgrace,” an unnamed source said. “Don’t they know that the media are waiting for them everywhere?”

Much of the ultra-Orthodox community does not recognize the state-sanctioned Holocaust Remembrance Day, instead marking it on the fast day of Asara Betevet. Every year there are reported incidents of barbecues being lit in public places, provoking outrage.

Tensions also flared between Jews and Arabs in the mixed city of Lod after fireworks were set off near the mayor’s car while he was on his way to a Holocaust remembrance event.

Mayor Yair Revivo got out of his car to try and stop a group of Arab men from shooting the fireworks toward Jewish areas of the city.

“To set off fireworks, which are a symbol of celebration, specifically on this day — that is an outrage,” Revivo said.

He told Ynet his attempt to intervene was met with hostility, and police had to come extract him from the scene.

Police detained seven people on suspicion of attacking the mayor.

Holocaust Remembrance Day is marked in Israel with memorial events and ceremonies around the country. By law, leisure sites, including restaurants and eateries are closed on the eve of the day.

In Sacher Park in Jerusalem, several barbecues were lit by ultra-Orthodox families who adamantly defended their actions, Walla reported on Monday.

“Remembrance Day is your event, not ours,” one ultra-Orthodox man said. “If you keep the Sabbath then we will mark your events.” Another explained that nonreligious people often have barbecues on Saturdays which, for the ultra-Orthodox, is a forbidden activity.

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