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London shul cancels memorial to Israeli rabbi who opposed registration of yeshivah students for army

Meeting to honour Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach is relocated from Hendon Adath

    Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach
    Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach

    A leading London Charedi synagogue has cancelled a memorial event for an Israeli rabbi who supported protests by radical activists against the registration of yeshivah students for the army.

    Instead, the event to honour Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach was relocated from Hendon Adath Yisroel Synagogue to the premises of Beis Yaakov Grammar School in Hendon.

    Contacted by the JC, Adath Yisroel declined to comment.

    Rabbi Auerbach, who died in February, was the eldest son of renowned post-war Charedi leader Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.

    But his support for demonstrations against the draft made him a controversial figure.

    In a statement posted on Facebook by right-wing Zionist movement Likud-Herut UK, its chairman Zalmi Unsdorfer said: “All of us have been revolted by scenes and reports of [C]haredi yeshiva students attacking and abusing IDF soldiers. Their protest is not simply against army service. After all, they only have to register with the ministry to get their automatic deferment as yeshiva students. But no… their leaders instructed them to not even register for the exemption — as a protest against the very state which has granted them this dispensation, and whose army guards the borders within which they sit and, supposedly, learn Torah.”

    He continued: “We were therefore outraged to hear that a hesped [eulogy] was to be staged for Rabbi Auerbach at the Hendon Adath shul hall.

    “To add insult to injury, the date first chosen for this outrage was the eve of Yom Hazikaron [memorial day for Israel’s fallen soldiers].”

    In a notice advising people of last week’s cancellation in an Orthodox circular, the event’s organisers said: “Words alone cannot express our sadness for the needless and unprovoked Chillul Hashem [profanation of God’s name].”

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