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Rabbis Hope To Ban Christmas Trees From Jerusalem Hotels

Two of Jerusalem’s chief rabbis have urged hotel owners in the holy city not to put up Christmas trees in their lobbies or to host New Year’s celebrations.

“As the secular year ends we want to remind you that erecting a Christmas tree in a hotel contravenes Halacha [Jewish law] and that therefore it is clear that one should not erect [a tree] in a hotel,” said a letter issued by the rabbis, according to the Times of Israel.

“It is also appropriate to avoid hosting parties to mark the end of the secular year,” they wrote.

Three religions — Judaism, Islam and Christianity — consider Jerusalem a holy city. Christians cherish it as the site of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

A rabbinate spokesperson told the Kipa website that this week’s letter was a “private initiative,” with no bearing on the kosher certification process. Last year, the Chief Rabbinate said that a hotel’s kosher certification could not be revoked if it displayed a Christmas tree.

In a separate incident, a rabbi at Haifa’s Technion Institute of Technology advised students against entering the student union building because there was a Christmas tree there.

“It’s not a Christian religious symbol, but even worse, a pagan one,” Rabbi Elad Dokow wrote on the Srugim website to explain his position.

Contact Naomi Zeveloff at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow her on Twitter, @naomizeveloff

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Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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