December 27, 2000
By Haim Shapiro
(December 27) - A central synagogue for the Ethiopian Jewish community in the Negev was dedicated yesterday in Arad. The synagogue, which can hold 150 worshipers, is part of an affirmative-action campaign by the Religious Affairs Ministry to provide extra support for groups which have been neglected in the past, according to Dov Randell, adviser on religious affairs to Acting Religious Affairs Minister Yossi Beilin.
Arad Mayor Bezalel Tabib said the synagogue building had been provided by the ministry, while the infrastructure and furnishings were provided by the municipality, with the help of a donation from Jerry Weinstein of New Jersey.
Randell also said that for the first time the Ethiopian community is to have an advisory council, with seven rabbis and seven kesssim, the community's traditional religious leaders, as well as himself and Rabbi Eli Ben-Dehan, director-general of the rabbinical courts.
The council, whose members were to have been elected late last night, would help facilitate the registration of marriages within the community. In the past, he said, the rabbinical establishment had not always agreed to register such marriages.
The synagogue dedication attendees included Sephardi Chief Rabbi Eliahu Bakshi-Doron, Absorption Minister Yuli Tamir, and Randell.
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