Facebook blocks Jewish prayer ad, calling it ‘political advertising’

Facebook says ad for Independence Day prayer at Tel Aviv’s main synagogue does not comply with its “community standards.”

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Facebook has taken down an ad announcing Israel Independence Day prayers at the Great Synagogue in Tel Aviv, claiming that the posting constituted “political advertising” and was in contravention of the social media giant’s standards, Channel 20 News reported Monday.

With Israel’s economy opening up after the successful coronavirus vaccination campaign and the sharp drop in morbidity, the Ministry of Health eased the restrictions on gatherings. Group prayer is once again allowed in synagogues, but generally limited to less than full capacity and to those who have been vaccinated.

One of the synagogues eager to celebrate both Israel’s Independence Day and the return to group prayer was the Great Synagogue in central Tel Aviv. The synagogue posted an ad on Facebook announcing that the annual special prayers for Independence Day that will be held Wednesday evening.

“The establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel after thousands of years of exile is a miracle, so we open Independence Day with thanksgiving and praise – join us,” says the posting on the synagogue’s Facebook page.

In order to increase the exposure, the synagogue decided to go beyond just a regular posting and purchased a Facebook ad for a fee. However, a few hours later, Facebook blocked the ad, saying it did not comply with Facebook’s standards.

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“It turns out that this is not an isolated incident,” tweeted Channel 20 reporter Kobi Bornshtein. “I have now received another case in which a page that published a religious event was blocked by Twitter on the pretext of a ‘political event.'”

The festive prayers on Wednesday will be opened by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former chief rabbi of Israel, and feature two popular Jewish cantors, with the poster for the event stating that admission is only for those who have received the coronavirus vaccinations or have recovered from the disease.