The haredi state-appointed and funded Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites Shmuel Rabinowitz (also spelled Rabinovitch) took his family on an outing to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. The zoo, which is closed on Yom HaShoah, was opened specifically for Rabinowitz and his family to enjoy.
Above: Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites Shmuel Rabinowitz
Originally published at 9:50 pm CDT 5-14-2014
Scandal: Haredi Kotel Rabbi Holds Outing With Family At Zoo – On Holocaust Remembrance Day
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The haredi state-appointed and state-funded Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites Shmuel Rabinowitz (also spelled Rabinovitch and Rabinovitz) took his family on a private outing to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Ha’aretz reported based on a report by Israel’s Channel 10 News.
Like other entertainment sites in Israel, the Biblical Zoo is closed to the public on Yom HaShoah.
But the Biblical Zoo apparently illegally opened just for Rabinowitz and his children and grandchildren at Rabinowitz’s personal request.
The rabbi’s family’s illegal visit reportedly included a guided tour, access to places that are normally closed to the public, and feeding sessions for some animals.
Zoo administrators defended what they did by pointing out that Rabinowitz had helped the Biblical Zoo.
Rabinowitz “has helped the zoo a lot, we wanted to give him and his family a tour behind the scenes, which can be held only on days when it is closed to the public,” the zoo told Channel 10.
Rabinowitz’s office confirmed the visit, but tried to defend it by claiming it took place “in the afternoon, toward the end of Holocaust Day.”
Associates of Rabinowitz also claimed that even though the zoo was closed to the public, classes and other activities were still being held there and the zoo was not opened especially for Rabinowitz.
But this claim could not be confirmed.
Haredi rabbis officially oppose visits to the Biblical Zoo because it is open on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath.
Even so, on weekdays haredi families do visit it, and in the past few years special tours have been held for haredi children.
Biblical zoo officials reportedly attribute these visits to Rabinowitz’s close ties with the zoo’s management.
Every year on Yom HaShoah, haredim are caught on video holding illegal barbecues in public parks and other celebrations.
Haredi rabbis oppose Yom HaShoah and instead favor remembering the Holocaust on Tisha B’Av or on another extant Jewish fast day.
Rabinowitz is from a Chabad family but is now more closely affiliated with the non-hasidic Ashkenazi haredi community. Several members of his extended family, including his father, are under investigation for public corruption.