‘Secular warrior’ mayoral candidate slams Chabad, Jewish outreach as ‘extremists damaging Tel Aviv’

Mayoral candidate equates Jewish outreach organization with Christian missionaries, claims Chabad is damaging the secular character of Tel Aviv.

By World Israel News Staff

An attorney running for mayor of Tel Aviv slammed emissaries from the world-famous Chabad movement for offering to help teenage Jewish boys pray, categorizing them as “extremist messianics” and charging that they are threatening the character of the secular city.

Reuven Lediansky, who recently served as deputy mayor of the city, reposted a video of a secular woman berating a Chabad emissary for manning a booth on a city street where men and teenage boys can wrap tefillin (phylacteries) and pray.

“[Incumbent Tel Aviv Mayor] Ron Huldai is abandoning our children to Chabad missionaries!” wrote Lediansky on his Facebook page.

“This stops with me! Our children are off-limits for the missionaries! A Chabad agent… set up [the prayer station] with the goal of putting tefillin on minors. Good job to the mother lioness who confronted the Chabadnik!”

The Chabad member depicted in the clip sent a warning letter to Lediansky via his attorney, Amir Shmeterling HaLevi, demanding that the post be removed, lest he face a libel lawsuit.

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Shmeterling HaLevi said his client felt “publicly shamed” and “bullied” by Lediansky, who was improperly using his platform as a public representative “to hurt and insult” religiously observant Israelis.

“In the State of Israel, placing tefillin on Jews over the age of 13, without coercion, is not a criminal offense and certainly not defined as ‘missionary’” activity, Shmeterling HaLevi wrote in an open letter published by the Yeshiva World news outlet.

But the letter only triggered Lediansky to ramp up his anti-religious rhetoric.

“Threats of a lawsuit will not move me! I will continue to protect our children from messianic and missionary elements!” Lediansky wrote.

“Neither Chabad nor the messianic groups will control the public space… there will be no religionization in Tel Aviv-Yafo and certainly not religious coercion!”

Lediansky added that he will fight “against the extremists and messianics who want to damage the character of our city! Only under my leadership will Tel Aviv continue to be secular and liberal.”

A bus ad touting Lediansky for mayor describes him as “your secular warrior.” Addressing Religious Zionism ministers, the ad reads, “[Public Security Minister Itamar] Ben-Gvir and [Finance Minister Bezalel] Smotrich, Tel Aviv is off-limits!”

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Notably, Lediansky has never spoken out against actual missionaries who attempt to convert Israeli Jews to Christianity, including in Tel Aviv.