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Ultra-Orthodox leader’s grave desecrated, prompting outrage

Worshipers find Rabbi Aharon Yehudah Leib Steinman’s gravestone in Bnei Brak damaged ahead of the 4th anniversary of his death; officials condemn ‘heinous’ vandalism

The gravestone of Rabbi Aharon Yehudah Leib Steinman is seen damaged in Bnei Brak, November 26, 2021. (Courtesy)
The gravestone of Rabbi Aharon Yehudah Leib Steinman is seen damaged in Bnei Brak, November 26, 2021. (Courtesy)

The gravestone of Rabbi Aharon Yehudah Leib Steinman, who was a top leader of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, was vandalized overnight Thursday-Friday, ahead of the fourth anniversary of his death.

There were no immediate details on who perpetrated the vandalism, but Haredi news site Kikar HaShabbat said worshipers who arrived to pray at the gravesite in Bnei Brak on Friday morning saw “extremists” fleeing the scene.

Municipal staff worked to clean the gravestone.

Steinman‘s fourth yartzeit is to be commemorated on Monday.

There was no immediate comment from the police on the matter.

A number of politicians, both in the governing coalition and the opposition, decried the vandalism.

Prominent ultra-orthodox rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Steinman in the central Israeli city of Bnei Brak, on November 14, 2012. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana (Yamina) condemned the incident, calling it a “heinous act.”

“I share in the grief of all his loved ones, and hope that the criminal will be caught soon,” Kahana added.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) said he expects the police to locate those involved in the “despicable act.”

Shas party leader Aryeh Deri said he was “shocked to the depths of my soul by the criminal and inconceivable desecration” of the gravestone.

“I call on the law enforcement authorities to capture the perpetrators quickly and punish them with the full severity of the law,” Deri added.

Steinman had been considered one of the top leaders of the community since the 2012 death of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv. He was also the spiritual leader of the Degel Hatorah faction of the United Torah Judaism political party.

He died in 2017 at the age of 104.

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