Christmas tree in Israeli mall called a ‘disgrace’ by Orthodox official

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Christmas tree in Israeli mall called a ‘disgrace’ by Orthodox official

Ashdod shopping centre which has Christmas tree criticised by Charedi deputy mayor of the city

Bethlehem Christmas tree. Source: Wikimedia. Credit: علاء (Alaa)
Bethlehem Christmas tree. Source: Wikimedia. Credit: علاء (Alaa)

An Ashdod mall put up a Christmas tree for the first time, and that’s not sitting too well with the northern Israeli city’s Charedi  deputy mayor.

“This is something intended to hurt anyone who identifies as Jewish,” Avi Amsalem said in a post on his Facebook page.

He called on the Big Fashion Mall to remove the “disgrace.”

The mall had responded to previous criticism by erecting a giant menorah next to the trimmed tree on Monday, even though Hanukkah was ending.

The Christmas tree made its debut at the mall when it opened in 2015, Haaretz reported. Other malls in Israel owned by the same company, which keeps open on Shabbat, have featured trees.

The company told Haaretz that the Christmas decorations are an attempt to bring a “European atmosphere.”

A large population of immigrants from the former Soviet Union live in Ashdod, a port city about a half-hour’s drive from Tel Aviv, and many are believed to celebrate Christmas.

The city’s haredi population was accused of religious coercion in recent municipal elections.

Pregnant victim of shooting attack reunited with husband

The pregnant woman who was injured in Sunday’s drive-by shooting in the West Bank was reunited with her husband, who also was injured in the attack.

Amichai Ish-Ran on Tuesday evening entered the hospital room of his wife Shira, 21, who had her baby delivered surgically at 30-week gestation to save the mother’s life. It was the first time they had seen each other when Shira, who had been in an induced coma, was conscious.

The couple smiled at each other and held hands, her father, Chaim Silverstein, told reporters. The young mother could not speak due to tubes in her throat.

She reportedly has asked about the condition of her baby, but has not been told about his serious and deteriorating condition, according to reports.

“We have no words to describe the joy, even though she is still in serious condition,” Silverstein said. “The baby’s condition has not changed since yesterday. His life is still in danger and he is fighting for it, a small baby who was born prematurely along with a great trauma, and he started his life in a very difficult situation and we pray that he will survive.”

Seven people were injured in the shooting attack on a bus stop outside the West Bank settlement of Ofra. The search for the shooter or shooters continued on Tuesday.

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