Orthodox rabbis in Israel are outraged at ‘desecration of the Sabbath by Eurovision Song Contest’
- Leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis have called for prayer in response to Eurovision
- Rehearsals and preparations for the competition will run through the Sabbath
- One senior rabbi said it would ‘desecrate our … Sabbath publicly and glaringly’
- The controversy is thought to be a reason why it was held away from Jerusalem
Ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Israeli have called for prayer in response to the expected desecration of the Jewish holy day of rest by the Eurovision Song Contest.
While the competition in Tel Aviv will not begin until after the Sabbath ends at sundown on Saturday, rehearsals and production preparations are expected to take place earlier in the day.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews strictly respect religious law prohibiting work on the Sabbath, the weekly day of rest from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday.
Eurovision organisers were set ‘to desecrate our holy and glorious Sabbath publicly and glaringly, God preserve us,’ Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky said in a handwritten missive endorsed by another senior religious leader, Rabbi Gershon Edelstein.
Israel’s ultra-Orthodox campaign vigorously for observance of the Sabbath nationwide even around largely secular Tel Aviv where this year’s Eurovision song contest is being held
Lucy Ayoub, Erez Tal and Bar Refaeli host the semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest held at Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on Tuesday
‘They are also forcing many Sabbath-observant Jews to work on Saturday, and we can’t foil their scheme, and this (desecration) is a danger to our presence here in the Holy Land,’ the 91-year-old spiritual leader said in the letter circulating on religious media.
‘We must call out and intone and beg God to protect us,’ Kanievsky said, calling on followers to convene in synagogues and religious colleges at midnight on Friday ‘for prayers and saying atonements and asking for mercy’.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured the leaders of ultra-Orthodox political parties that Eurovision was an international event ‘not controlled by the government’.
‘The Israeli government does not seek to desecrate the Sabbath, and most of the participants in the event are from abroad and not Jewish,’ Netanyahu wrote in a letter to them.
Tamta of Cyprus performs during the first semi-final of 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv
Netanyahu is currently in negotiations, including with ultra-Orthodox parties, to form a new governing coalition following a general election last month.
He is facing a May 29 deadline to form a new government.
The Sabbath was said to be one of the reasons Eurovision organisers and Israeli hosts decided against holding the event in the religiously conservative city of Jerusalem.
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