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Forget Hamas and Iran. This may be Israel’s most pressing problem

Rick Westhead
The Star

As tensions grow between secular Jews and the ultra-Orthodox, many Israeli feel it is the most troubling conflict the country faces.

TEL AVIV—The argument was over candles. Students at the yeshiva religious seminary in a suburb of this cosmopolitan Israeli city bickered over whether it was permissible for observant Jews to light more candles than are needed during Shabbat.

From sundown on Friday to sundown Saturday, many Jewish families do not work, spend money, drive vehicles or use electric devices. Even flicking a light switch is considered inappropriate, making candles a necessity in most homes.

In a debate that stretched over days, some students said a collection of candles looked nice, while others contended too many were tantamount to a decadent luxury, not in keeping with Jewish law.

“It’s still not decided, we’re still talking about it,” said yeshiva student Yechezkel Horowitz.

Horowitz, 38, and his classmates are members of the black-clad ultra-Orthodox community, a group whose visibility and influence is surging in Israel.

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