The government announced Sunday that it had worked out a compromise, whereby a new synagogue would be built next to the Ayelet Hashachar synagogue in Givat Ze'ev that is slated to be demolished. Based on a compromise recommended last week by Periphery, Negev and Galilee Affairs Minister Aryeh Deri, major elements of the existing synagogue will be removed and integrated with a new structure that will be built on a lot adjacent to the current building.
But on Sunday night, members of the congregation said that they had not been consulted regarding the compromise – and they had no intention of giving up the building until a new synagogue was completed. Congregants said that they had been intimidated into agreeing to the compromise, threatened that if they did not do so, the synagogue would be demolished “immediately.”
The Ayelet HaShachar synagogue is slated to be demolished this week after a far-left group filed a petition with the Court, claiming that the structure had been build on privately-owned Palestinian Arab land.
The petition had been working its way through the courts for at least three years. Members of the congregation have offered the land's alleged owners a high price for the purchase or rental of the land, but they, and their lawyers, have insisted that the synagogue be torn down. Public officials have rallied behind the synagogue and called to save it, stating that sends the wrong message to Israelis over the character of the Jewish state.
Members of the congregation put out a call to supporters Sunday night, saying they planned to remain in the building overnight in case bulldozers did arrive to tear the building down. According to Rabbi Azriel Cohen, the rabbi of the synagogue, the congregation will only move when a new and better building is constructed, as it is forbidden under Jewish law to abandon a synagogue building unless a more attractive and better quality replacement is available. Until such time, said the rabbi, the congregation will stay where it is.