Israeli rabbi calls for day of fasting and prayer amid rift over judicial reform

Chairman of the Tzohar rabbinical organization urges government to pause judicial overhaul plan, calls for national day of fasting and prayer.

By World Israel News Staff

A prominent Israeli rabbi called for a national day of fasting and prayer Tuesday, warning of a serious rift between Israelis over the government’s judicial reform plan.

Rabbi David Stav, the chairman of the Tzohar rabbinical organization, on Tuesday urged Israelis to fast on Wednesday, on the eve of Rosh Hodesh Nissan – the first day of the Hebrew month, which includes Passover – and to pray for reconciliation.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Stav warned of a “fratricidal war” over the judicial overhaul and called for the coalition to freeze planned legislation connected to the reform until after Independence Day, over a month away, on April 26.

“Take a break until after Independence Day,” Stav urged coalition lawmakers with regard to the reform plan.

“Against the backdrop of the great rift in Israeli society and the fear of fratricidal war, many organizations are calling to join the request of Rabbi David Stav to observe a day [or half a day] of public fasting on Wednesday, March 22, the 29th of the Jewish month of Adar,” the press release said, noting that groups including Beit Hill Rabbis, the religious Kibbutz movement, Ohr Torah Stone, and Ne’emani Torah V’aavodah have endorsed the initiative.

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The Conservative Movement in Israel, known as the Masorti Movement, also signed on to the initiative, as did the Israeli Congress, and Kolech-Religious Women’s Forum.

“The members of the aforementioned organizations call on the general public, secular and religious, traditional and ultra-Orthodox, for and against [the judicial reforms], to join the fast with the understanding that the rift must be prevented.”

“We must keep hope. We must go on a break until after Independence Day in the hope that we will spend the national days together and that this break will create an opportunity for dialogue.”

The press release describes the planned day of prayer as “a call to our father in heaven: ‘Please God save us’ and a demand from our leaders not to tear the nation apart.”

“As is the custom of our sages, we will fast a Yom Kippur Katan [Minor Day of Atonement] on the eve of Rosh Hodesh Nissan in the hope that we will receive the mercy of the heavens.”

Rabbi Stav also encouraged Diaspora Jews to join the fast and prayers.