Yerushalayim Mayor Nir Barkat has canceled a fine that was issued to a Chabad Chassid who for the past four years has been operating a stand outside the Central Bus Station offering passerby the opportunity to put on tefillin. The cancellation came hours after Dov Ber Cohen received a fine for NIS 475 from a city inspector after refusing to close down the stand.
The fine raised the ire of many Israelis on social media, with observant and non-observant residents demanding that the fine be canceled. Speaking to Channel Ten, Cohen said that “I have been operating this stand for more than four years, standing here from morning to night. This fine will only give me the strength to continue.” City Council member Aryeh King showed up at the stand to show his support and assist Cohen in enlisting passerby in putting on tefillin. “The Yerushalayim municipality is continuing to follow the agenda set by the radical left, of banning all signs of Judaism in the public space, especially the laying of tefillin.”
In a statement later Friday, the municipality said that “the city of Yerushalayim greatly appreciates the work of Chabad both in the city and throughout the country, which aim to increase love of the Jewish people and bring them closer to Judaism. The city has an excellent record of cooperation with Chabad and its activists. It should be noted that Chabad activists operating in the public space generally receive the required permits. In this specific case, city inspectors learned that the stand did not have the proper licensing. Unfortunately, despite several warnings, the operator of the stand refused to obtain the necessary permits, and thus was fined. At the request of Mayor Nir Barkat and with the cooperation of city attorneys, it has been made clear to the fine will be canceled if he arranges for proper licensing, as required by law.”