Bribery Allegations Spark Outrage Over Israeli Ministry of Religion's Plan to Distribute Sweets in Shuls on Simchat Torah

By Arutz-7
Posted on 09/29/23 | News Source: Arutz-7

The Ministry of Religion caused an uproar after it announced that it would distribute candy bags to children in synagogues on Simchat Torah in order to "bring the children of Israel closer and connect them to tradition."

Haaretz TV critic Rogel Alpher wrote that it was a bribe to children.

"The Israeli government has launched a new initiative in honor of Simchat Torah. It bribes children to come to the synagogue. The bribe is a bag of sweets. The Ministry of Religious Services will distribute candy bags to 250,000 children at celebrations in synagogues on Simchat Torah, which cost 650,000 shekels."

Akiva Novick criticized the initiative: "These are exactly the things that cause the common man to dislike the conduct of the haredi parties. Do you want to hand out candy? Go to the grocery store and buy candy. No one is preventing you from doing so. Treating the state treasury as a candy store looks very bad, certainly in a time like this, and the constant argument that it is for culture does not make it any less repugnant."

The Chairman of the Association of Public Health Physicians in Israel, Prof. Hagai Levine, wrote: "Distributing sweets harms children's health: teeth, metabolic system, heart, blood vessels, brain and more. There is no commandment to hand out sweets. Why give out candy? You can hand out flags, you can hand out apples. Maybe they will distribute cigarettes on Purim? Whoever wants to give their child sweets can do so, but not from the state."

Dr. Rina Anati, a Ha'aretz commentator, wrote: "When the Ministry of Religious Services distributes candy to children 'to bring them closer to tradition,' it becomes a pedophile who distributes candy to children and entices them to come to his house to harm them - this is criminality."

MK Tali Gottlieb supported the Ministry of Religion: "On Simchat Torah, all children of Israel, wherever they are, will receive a bag of sweets in the synagogue. All without exception! There is nothing like the joy of dancing with the Torah. And to all those who are outraged about the 650 thousand shekels that were invested so that all the children would be happy, my heart aches for their ignorance and lack of understanding of the glory of the holiday tradition. That's how it is when you're just looking to insult. The Bible commands us to rejoice on the holiday."

In an official announcement from the Ministry of Religion this week, it was stated that this is an initiative as part of the policy of the Minister of Religious Services, MK Michael Malchieli, who sees great importance in making religious services accessible.