Parents of students who attend the public-religious Ohel Meir school in Afula in northern Israel are demanding that it be spiritually purified following a Muslim wedding that took place there. They are up in arms that the wedding was allowed to happen in the hall where the school’s Torah scrolls are kept, and are threatening to keep their children out of the school synagogue until a purification ceremony is carried out.
“We’re talking about a serious event that should never have happened,” one parent told the Israeli news website Walla! “I am not prepared to let my child pray in a space in which a Muslim wedding took place…this was an impure act.” One father said that he thought a delegation of rabbis needed to enter the school synagogue and perform a special prayer service in order to purify it.
School authorities say they are dealing with the matter, and city officials have passed the responsibility on to the Ministry of Education.
A religious source involved in the matter told Walla! that the parents were overreacting and were likely being influenced by LEHAVA, an organization that works to prevent the intermingling and intermarriage of Jews and Arabs. “It was an innocent mistake,” the source said. “And precautions will be taken so it won’t happen again.”
A spokesperson from the local coalition of social organizations blamed LEHAVA for the “exaggerated response.” He went on to say, “With all due respect to the values in Judaism, the fact that the notion of needing a purification ceremony for a Muslim wedding to have taken place is unthinkable…It is worth reminding LEHAVA and the parents at the school that in Israel 20% of the citizens are Arabs, who are entitled to free expression of religion, including the right to freely celebrate Muslim weddings.”