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Mar 3, 2008

more details on the Haredi fight against the Maar

Because of my last post in which I mentioned a rumor that had reached the national Haredi press, I have found out some more information and I felt it important to mention here.

The following information is what I was told from someone involved in the fight against the Maar and all the info is firsthand, and therefore reliable. Obviously there is more detail than what I have included below, but this is the main thrust of it.

After the Misrad HaShikun issued the tender for the Maar, the fight against it was renewed. The first indication of the fight in the public eye was the signs decorating RBS. In addition to the signs, work was being done outside of the public eye to get tender rescinded.

Rav Perlstein dedicated the next few weeks to leading the fight against the Maar. Some of the Haredi MKs were brought in to get involved, such as MKs Gafni, Litzman, Porush and Yishai. Rav Perlstein spent, literally, hours every day during that period working the phones speaking to everybody and anybody who might have some influence on the matter.

Opposition was registered with the Housing Minister Zeev Boim, who requested that the opposition be drafted into a letter and sent to him.

Rav Perlstein's opinion was that the fight should be waged with the Misrad HaShikun, but at the same time appealing to the mayor Dani Vaknin to enlist his assistance in the matter. It was decided to try this because Vaknin fights like a lion when he feels he is being attacked and if the fight would be against Vaknin, it was felt, he would fight back and push ahead with it. Asking Vaknin for his assistance seemed more prudent as a way of toning it down.

I am not sure why they thought they could ask Vaknin for his assistance in getting the Maar project canceled. Vaknin has used the construction of the Maar in his election campaign last elections, and he has promised its continuation on more than one occasion. But they thought they could get him on their side because of other considerations and things he wanted form the Haredi public and Rabbonim, so they went that route.

They came to some sort of working agreement on the issue, the details of which I am not privy to, but, I am told, had nothing to do with the transfer of the seminary building.

Some askanim felt that this was not the right way to fight against the Maar (what happened to listening to the Rabbonim? they thought they knew better? so it is only other people who need to listen to the Rabbonim, but not the askanim?). They wanted a more "militant" approach, with the fight being taken directly to Vaknin and the City Council reps in favor of the Maar. The result of this was the letter that was signed by a number of Rabbonim, but not Rav Perlstein. (as an aside, this contradicts the comment from the other post in which an anonymous commenter claims with firsthand knowledge that the reason Rav Perlstein did not sign was because the letter was not charif enough).

Rav Perlstein felt that signing such a letter would only intensify the fight with Vaknin himself, which would gain nothing and only make the fight that much more difficult. He agreed that if his plan fell through this would be a possible alternative track to consider, but in the meantime, progress was being made and he did not want to derail that.

The askanim went ahead with their letter anyway and got signatures of some Rabbonim, but not that of Rabbi Perlstein and some others who had been involved.

He told me about some of the methods used to getting Rabbonim to sign, and they include telling these Rabbonim that Rav Persltein approved it and would be signing when he had not, writing the letter after agreeing to wait, and other false information.

The askanim went ahead and publicized the letter, despite Rav Persltein's, and others, disapproval. Because of this letter, the whole track of Rav Perlstein's approach using darcei noam and getting Vaknin to cross over to the Haredi side of the fight was derailed. He then took the approach that there is nothing he can do as it is out of City Council hands and completely up to the Misrad HaShikun.

I am told that Rav Persltein has spent many hours and much energy working in the recent weeks purely dedicated to the fight against the Maar. He has done so because he truly believes it will be bad for the neighborhood and he feels it is the right thing to do at this time, even letting other things fall to the side while this fight is waged. He knows people talk about him and make claims as to his motives and methods, but he plugs on because he feels he has to do what is right and not worry about what people say. He ignores the talk, because if he spent his time responding to it, he would never have time to get anything done.

So, while you might be on the same side as Rabbi Perlstein in the fight against the Maar, or you may want the Maar built and you are on the opposing side, but, Rav Perlstein is fighting his battle with his methods because he truly believes in it and not because he was or was not promised a building or for any other consideration.


  1. What is the nature of the opposition to the Maar?

  2. the opposition to the maar is based on an assumption of what will be within it, that being supposedly a university campus (like a branch of bar ilan or touro or the like), a theater, non-tzniyus stores (not sure what that is), and thereby the public that will be brought into the neighborhood will be one that is not "mattim" or appropriate for the neighborhood and will be a bad influence on a Haredi neighborhood.
    As well, it will destroy the youth (those that have not yet been destroyed by the internet), as the teenagers will hang out in the theaters or stores and not sit in the beis medrash.

  3. Many are also opposed to the idea of bringing an enormous commercial designed to attract traffic into the middle of a residential neighborhood. I don't want to think about what the roads would look like...

    Personally, I'd love to see this built about 5 kilometers away; I have no objection to the stores or the visitors, but I don't want it too close. Right on 38 near the entrance to RBS would be great, especially if there was a bus that went there.


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