First publication. The conflict over the territory of the Beit Orot Yeshiva in East Jerusalem is rising. And now (again) the Mount of Olives Ridge Jewish Communal Development Foundation is suing the Yeshiva Beit Orot association to vacate the land it has been sitting on for the past forty years.
For those who are not in the conflict, let us remind you: the Beit Orot Yeshiva was established in a house located in the gap between the Mount Scopus ridge and the Mount of Olives - between the Hebrew University and the neighborhood of At-Tur and Wadi al-Joz. The house was bought in 1985 by the Jewish philanthropist Irving Moskowitz from its Arab owners. At the initiative of Rabbi Hanan Porat and Rabbi Benny Elon, a yeshiva, Beit Orot, was established there, with the two of them heading it, and at its peak, the yeshiva had about 125 students.
Conflict between the heads of the yeshiva following a drop in students
In the meantime, the two rabbis turned to national politics, and in their place, Rabbi Elḥanan Ben Nun and Rabbi Danny Isaac stood at the head of the Yeshiva. The Yeshiva held the Jewish settlement on the Mount of Olives and in 2010 the government approved the expansion of the Jewish presence there by building many housing units to house the members of the Yeshiva and staff. The houses were built below the yeshiva complex and in the place where Rabbi Dov Lior also lives today.
But then the conflict broke out, between the various parties on the Mount of Olives. According to what is stated in the statement of claim, in 2014 after the registration for the yeshiva dwindled to about 20 students, which put the attendance at the place at risk as well as the possibility of recognizing the yeshiva as a settlement yeshiva by the Ministry of Defense and as a result receiving budgets for the operation of the yeshiva, as a result of which a conflict developed between the yeshiva management and the rabbis who head it, when the latter accused the management of wanting to unite the unique yeshiva with other yeshiva.
After various attempts to change the nature of the yeshiva failed, the yeshiva's management decided to replace the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Danny Isaac, as a result of which students and graduates of the yeshiva began to resent the executive committee of the yeshiva, according to the plaintiffs in their letter. As part of the students' struggle to return the head of the yeshiva back, the students sent a letter announcing that they were finishing their studies instead.
Last year, a beit midrash for army graduates was opened there, led by Rabbi Ben Nun and Rabbi Chen Halamish, who was the rabbi of the yeshiva.
The claim of the prosecution: the conflicts created a difficult atmosphere and are preventing settlement in the place
With the dismissal of the head of the yeshiva by the management, some of the founders of the association intervened and opposed the dismissal and submitted the matter to the court for decision. In January 2022, the Supreme Court ruled that the yeshiva's control would be in the hands of the head of the yeshiva and the founders of the association.
However, the community development fund is now seeking to take the land out of the hands of those who chair the Yeshiva and return it to its owners, since according to them it no longer fulfills the terms of the agreement for its operation.
The plaintiffs claim that the land is owned by the American Friends company which received the area as a gift from the late philanthropist Moskovitch and now given the change of management following the legal battles over the years the yeshiva is not a center of attraction for Jewish settlement in the place contrary to the expectation that a lively yeshiva in Moskovitch's name would operate in the place the deceased
In the summary of the lawsuit, the American Friends company requests to return the control of the land to its exclusive hands and to make it available to the Jewish Community Development Fund on the Mount of Olives, which will work to fulfill the goals of the company and to promote settlement and a vibrant community there.