Israel: Ultra-Orthodox Jews upset by 'immoral beach'

The artificial beach in Jerusalem The artificial beach has been condemned by some in the ultra-Orthodox community

A new artificial beach in Jerusalem is making waves among the city's ultra-Orthodox community, it seems.

The man-made attraction has been branded the "beach of abomination" by one ultra-Orthodox news website, and the community's leaders fear it will encourage immorality and "Sabbath desecration", the Jerusalem Post reports.

Built in a converted 19th century railway station, outside the Old City of Jerusalem, the sea-free beach includes a surfing simulator, beach volleyball, and a bar serving alcoholic drinks. There are also wading pools for those who fancy a dip. Until now residents of the hilltop, landlocked city had to travel about an hour to visit the beaches of Israel's Mediterranean coast.

But some are worried city dwellers enjoying sun and sand could "undermine the sanctity of the holy city", and several senior rabbis want the beach to be scrapped, the paper says.

"Tourists come to Jerusalem to see holiness," Rabbi Ephraim Holtzberg tells the Israel National News website. "Such an event has never taken place in the history of Jerusalem since the days of King David - whiskey, vodka and drunk people." The city council stresses that although it gave the go-ahead for the beach, it was funded and built by a private company.

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