Rabbis in Jerusalem have apparently issued a letter warning dozens of hotels in the city that it is "forbidden" by Jewish religious law to erect a tree or stage new year's parties.
Many hotel owners fear that the rabbis may carry out previous threats to damage their businesses by denying them certificates declaring their premises to be "kosher".
The religious leaders are also reminding Israeli Jews that their New Year is properly observed at the beginning of the Jewish calendar and not Jan 1.
Elad Dokow, the rabbi of Israel's premier technology university, Technion in Haifa, also ordered the Jewish students to boycott their students' union, after it installed a Christmas tree.
He likened the act to "idolatry," warning that it was a "pagan" symbol that violated the kosher status of the building, including its food hall.
More intolerance. This time it's the rabbis' turn. https://t.co/z8imzHYO9G— Tony Ellis (@tonyellis1) December 24, 2016
Jerusalem is a scared place for all three Abrahmanic religions. Christians make up a larger part of the minorities in Israel; with the population ranging up to 130000.
Practice of erecting Christmas trees is centuries old- even in Jerusalem. However, christmas is coinciding with “Hanukkah,” the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers and fried foods.
The Rabbis might have circulated the warning, fearing the absence of moderate secular Jews on Hanukka as Christmas is widely celebrated event even by Jews since past few years.
It is, they wrote, “appropriate to avoid hosting” New Year’s parties.
Stopping the Christmas may not be a viable solution- it may rather spread a bad taste among the multi-community population. It also reflects Israel as an intolerant nation in the international community.
It would be interesting to see whether banning of the Christmas tree will attract secular Jews towards Hanukka or this will merely frame an everlasting example of religious intolerance, theocracy and extremism.
#ApartheidIsrael rabbi's forbid Christmas trees and parties in Israel. Yet demand integration in the USA. so where is the tolerance?— Firoz Osman (@Firoz_Osman) December 23, 2016