(JTA) — An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 anti-Zionist haredi Orthodox Jews protested in New York against the conscription of haredi yeshiva students and the arrest of draft dodgers.
Most of the participants in the rally Sunday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn were from the Satmar Hasidic sect, whose Central Rabbinical Congress of the U.S.A. and Canada organized the rally. The Satmars had hoped that other Hasidic sects would come out in support of the rally, but they didn’t due to infighting, Ynet reported.
The rally was held under the banner of “Let My People Go,” a larger campaign against the conscription and the “persecution of the Torah in the Holy Land.”
A video showing haredi Orthodox protesters in Israel during rallies against the draft being handled roughly by police was screened.
The rally, for men and boys only, was held almost entirely in Yiddish. The Hasidic sect believes a state of Israel should not exist until the Messiah comes.
“To achieve their goal of make us into Zionists, they are oppressing us, expecting us to break down, give up and join them,” said Rabbi Aron Jacobowitz, a spokesman for the rally, said.