Jerusalem – A pre-election gathering in Israel turned controversial when the head of a prestigious yeshiva slammed the Israeli government for not allowing gender segregation on public buses, noting that even the Nazi regime understood the need to separate men and women.
Rabbi Aviezer Piltz, dean of Yeshivas Toshiya in Tifrach, made the remarks on Saturday night at Bnei Brak’s Lederman synagogue in the presence of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky and Rabbi Gershon Edelstein at a gathering launching the United Torah Judaism election campaign, reported Kikar Hashabat (http://bit.ly/2YjOYJi). Speaking out against secular Zionism, Rabbi Piltz criticized the country’s refusal to allow forced separations between men and women on government-run buses. Several Charedi-run buses have men seated in front, with women located in the bus’s rear section.
“Is there a county in the world that doesn’t allow this kind of separation on buses, except this one?” asked Rabbi Piltz. “Here they don’t allow it. This is a country of idol worship. Even the Nazis, may their memories be erased, understood the need for separate areas for men and women.”
The Nazi reference was just one small part of Rabbi Piltz’s fiery remarks which criticized the Israeli government for interfering in religious education and noted that, throughout history, those who attempted to secularize Jews have failed. In an interview with an Israeli radio program, Degel Hatorah representative Rabbi Yitzchak Pindrus who organized the gathering said that the Nazi reference was used just as an example and had been blown out of proportion on social media.
Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israeli office, called on Rabbi Piltz to distance himself from his remarks, reported The Jerusalem Post (http://bit.ly/2Tw9gfd.)
“This is an unfortunate statement, and I’m hoping that he didn’t really want to convey a message that Israeli society is worse than the Nazis,” said Zuroff. “That a rosh yeshiva could say something like that is shocking and unacceptable. The honorable rabbi should apologize for this comment, which at least would be a constructive step.”