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Jerusalem Cancels ‘Space Week’ Events After Ultra-Orthodox Pressure

Events in Jerusalem’s popular Machaneh Yehudah Market to celebrate World Space Week were cancelled by the Israeli Ministry of Science, Technology and Space after protests from an ultra-Orthodox city councilman, who was upset that some of the venues were not certified kosher.

Scientists and professors had been scheduled to lead lectures, stargazing and virtual-reality experiences at sites throughout the city on Tuesday, but events in the Machaneh Yehudah area were cancelled by the ministry after Jerusalem city councilman Yohanan Weizmann of the United Torah Judaism party sent an official letter of complaint to Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis.

“As a city council member and a resident of an adjacent neighborhood, Makor Baruch, I would like to turn your attention to the fact that two of the places that were chosen [to host events] sell non-kosher food and hametz [bread products] on Passover, and the rest [of the venues] are not kosher all,” Weizmann wrote.

Weizmann also claimed that most of the venues didn’t have proper business licenses, and that his constituents had made noise and sanitation complains. The venues, he wrote, “take our few parking spots and also attract crime and improper behavior.”

“I’m in favor of Space Week, I go to these events myself, I only asked that it be held in a place with a proper business license,” Weizmann told Haaretz.

The ministry said in a statement on Friday that the events will take place elsewhere in the city.

Contact Aiden Pink at pink@forward.com or on Twitter, @aidenpink

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