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Chief rabbi pans ultra-Orthodox who revel on Holocaust Day

Hundreds of Haredim gather in Jerusalem park for barbecues as Israel holds official ceremonies for Shoah victims

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

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger (photo credit: Marko/Flash90)
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger (photo credit: Marko/Flash90)

The Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel on Monday launched a scathing indictment against members of the ultra-Orthodox community who enjoyed picnics and barbecues in a Jerusalem park while other Israelis held memorial ceremonies throughout the country for Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“It is a desecration of God’s name,” Rabbi Yona Metzger said in an interview with Kol Berama Radio.

According to reports, some 200 ultra-Orthodox people gathered in the Sacher Park in central Jerusalem and set up picnics and barbecues on Sunday night, around the time that national Holocaust memorial ceremonies were starting.

“I’m not only offended; I completely reject those who stand apart from the general public,” he said.

Some in the ultra-Orthodox community deny the legitimacy of the State of Israel and do not observe any events in the national calendar. The attitude causes friction each year as Israelis mark Holocaust Memorial day and Remembrance Day for fallen IDF soldiers.

However, Metzger argued, there is no religious justification for publicly engaging in leisure activities during a solemn memorial day.

“To make a barbecue when Jews are mourning and feeling the pain of the six million?” he said. “What authorization is there for that?”

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