Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest against army service

By Yolande Knell

Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews have held a mass prayer in Jerusalem against plans to conscript more of their young men into the Israeli army.

New legislation that would end wholesale exemptions for students at Jewish seminaries is expected to pass in the coming weeks.

A draft bill sets quotas for ultra-Orthodox men to join military or civilian public service.

Those who refuse could face prison.

The ultra-Orthodox demonstration closed off the main entrance to Jerusalem and blocked off many roads to traffic.

Men and teenagers dressed in black hats and coats carried signs that read “The holy Torah will win” and “Please save me from the hands of my brothers”.

Rabbis read prayers against the draft over loudspeakers as crowds joined in, swaying backwards and forwards.

In an unusual display of unity, all the three major ultra-Orthodox Jewish streams were represented: Lithuanian, Hassidic and Sephardic.

Continue reading the main story in BBC

Categories: Asia, BBC, Israel, Judaism

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