16:29 GMT26 November 2020
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    The Sabbath was reportedly one of the reasons Eurovision organisers and Israeli hosts decided against holding the event in the religiously conservative city of Jerusalem.

    On Thursday, Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau called for Shabbat to be extended by 20 minutes.

    He claimed it was a response to the imminent “desecration” of the Jewish holy day of rest by the Eurovision song contest, which is set to be hosted by Israel this year.

    READ MORE: Eurovision Promo Featuring 'Greedy' Jews, 'War & Occupation' Sparks Fury Online

    “Due to the great desecration that will take place on the upcoming Sabbath because of the Eurovision song contest, I ask each and every person to refrain from doing work 10 minutes before lighting candles [to mark the start of the Sabbath] and ten minutes after the end of the Sabbath,” Lau said.

    “We will extend the sanctity of Shabbat and add from the regular to the holy,” added Lau.

    “This desecration is taking place before the eyes of the world.”

    Rabbi David Lau made the comments while giving a lecture in the central city of Modiin.

    This year’s competition is being held in Tel Aviv, with the finals not beginning until after the Sabbath ends at nightfall on Saturday. However, rehearsals and preparations are expected to take place earlier in the day.

    READ MORE:Israel Deploys Iron Dome Anti-Missile Systems Ahead of Eurovision — Reports

    Orthodox Jews strictly respect religious law prohibiting work on the Sabbath, the weekly day of rest from sundown Friday until nightfall Saturday.

    Leading Orthodox rabbis in Israel called on Wednesday for prayer in response to the competition taking place on the Sabbath.

    Eurovision organisers are set “to desecrate our holy and glorious Sabbath publicly and glaringly, God preserve us,” Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a 91-year-old spiritual leader, said in the letter circulating in religious media outlets. 

    “They are also forcing many Sabbath-observant Jews to work on Saturday, and we can’t foil their scheme, and this (desecration) is a danger to our presence here in the Holy Land.”

    READ MORE: Israel is an Apartheid State – Hosting Eurovision Will Not Conceal that Reality

    On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an attempt to placate leaders of ultra-Orthodox political parties.

    Eurovision, insisted Netanyahu, was an international event “not controlled by the government.”

    “The Israeli government does not seek to desecrate the Sabbath, and most of the participants in the event are from abroad and not Jewish,” Netanyahu wrote in a letter to them.

    The Eurovision Song Contest 2019 is the 64th edition of the competition, and will take place in Tel Aviv, Israel, following Israel's victory at the 2018 contest in Lisbon, Portugal, with the song "Toy", performed by Netta.


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