Brooklyn, NY – Thousands of Satmar chasidim from all across the metropolitan New York area and beyond gathered at Barclays Center Sunday in Brooklyn to protest the forced draft of Chareidim in Israel.
Event spokesperson Sam Stern said that the goal of the event was to raise awareness of a plan by the Israeli Defense Forces to force those who have dedicated their lives to learning Torah into the army.
The event was organized by the followers of Rabbi Zalman Leib Teitelbaum and was officially boycotted by disciples of Rabbi Aron Teitelbaum.
“We feel that this is a danger to the future of klal yisroel,” Stern told VIN News. “Right now their goal is to get 5,200 bochurim into the military system. They are targeting more the Sephardic right now but it could be anyone from the Charedi community – Chasidish, Litvish. It will get tighter and tighter until they reach the core of the community.”
Stern said that he believes that the IDF’s ultimate goal will be to have an elite group of just1,800 full time students allowed to remain in yeshiva, with all others being forced to serve in the military.
“We feel that they are starting to wipe out the community,” said Stern. “We can’t understand why everyone else is silent about this.”
The four hour long demonstration started at approximately 3:30 this afternoon, with participants hailing from all across Brooklyn, Monsey, Montreal and Lakewood and small contingents representing the Satmar communities of London and Argentina.
Stern said that he believed that among the 20,000 Chasidim in attendance were a handful of disciples of Rabbi Aron Teitelbaum who came to show their support, despite the official boycott.
Stern said that even though the demonstration was taking place an ocean away, it would still send a clear message to Israeli officials.
“We hope to keep the pressure on,” said Stern. “Once we shine a light on the facts we believe that the entire Jewish world will join us to protest what is happening.”