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Eidah Chareidis Holds Massive Rally to Encourage Jews to Boycott Israeli Elections

On Sunday, March 8, the Eidah Chareidis, the anti-Zionist community of Jerusalem, held a rally at which several prominent rabbis spoke against voting in the upcoming Israeli election this March 17.

The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Yitzchok Tovia Weiss, quoted previous rabbinic leaders of the Eidah who all forbade voting, and declared that we would continue to follow their ruling. He added that today it is already clear to everyone that the Israeli government's goal is to put an end to Torah observance, and it is obvious that we cannot join them in any way.

The head of the Beis Din, Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, gave a speech in which he argued that those Orthodox Jews who vote today are basing themselves on a false claim. They say they are following certain rabbis who permitted voting in 1949 when the state was first founded, but those rabbis only permitted sending representatives to the Knesset to be part of the opposition and fight against the state's leaders; they never meant that the Orthodox parties should join the coalition and help hold together the government.

Furthermore, said Rav Sternbuch, even if we would assume that the Orthodox parties do accomplish something, it is still forbidden. He related a story in which a member of the Orthodox party Agudah told the Brisker Rav that the Agudah party does in fact accomplish something good, to which the Brisker Rav responded, "If that's the case, then it's even worse, because if you have the power to do things, that shows that you are a real partner in the state, and you share the responsibility for all their actions against the Torah."

Other speakers at the rally were: Rabbi Naftali Frenkel, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchok Ullman, Rabbi Yaakov Mendel Yurovitch, Rabbi Chaim Uri Freund, Rabbi Yehoshua Rosenberger and Rabbi Yehuda Fischer.

Many of the greatest rabbis have always opposed voting in Israeli elections on the grounds that it means taking part in the forbidden state and sending a representative to swear allegiance to it. Furthermore, they maintain, non-participation is a better guarantee of Orthodox independence and protection from anti-religious decrees, while participation would leave us open to the charge that we are only taking from society and not sharing the burden. As the Brisker Rav warned, “If you accept their money you will eventually have to listen to them…”

In the past, prominent opponents of participation have included the Satmar Rebbe, the Minchas Yitzchok, the Brisker Rav, the Chazon Ish, Rabbi Zelig Reuven Bengis, Rabbi Pinchus Epstein, Rabbi Moshe Aryeh Freund, Rabbi Mordechai Chaim Slonim, Rabbi Tzadka Hutzin, Rabbi Yisroel Zev Mintzberg, Rabbi Shimon Yisroel Posen, Rabbi Yisroel Yitzchok Reisman, Rabbi Dovid Jungreis, Rabbi Itzikel Gewirtzman, Rabbi Chaim Sinuani, Rabbi Hillel Lichtenstein, Rabbi Elazar Twersky, Rabbi Avraham Shloime Katz, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Grunwald, Rabbi Shloime Zalman Friedman, Rabbi Yosef Cohen, Rabbi Eliyahu Zlotnick, Rabbi Yaakov Mutzafi, Rabbi Eliezer Zisya Portugal, Rabbi Yisrael Abuchateira, Rabbi Yosef Grunwald, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rothenberg, Rabbi Ezriel Yehuda Lebovitch, Rabbi Betzalel Stern, Rabbi Moshe Stern, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchok Kahn, Rabbi Shmuel Tzvi Horowitz, Rabbi Yaakov Leizer and Rabbi Refoel Blum. Most recently, those who oppose participation include Rabbi Yitzchok Tovia Weiss, Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, Rabbi Yaakov Blau, Rabbi Meir Brandsdorfer, Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Ullman and Rabbi Dovid Soloveitchik.

The large crowds at the rally underscored the fact that 67 years after the establishment of the state, there are still countless tens of thousands of Jews living within its borders who have not surrendered to Zionism, and continue to proclaim loudly and clearly that the Zionist state does not represent them or the Jewish people.

See this page for more information in Yiddish and Hebrew about the question of voting in the elections.