The chairman of the board of Angel Bakeries, former Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, on Sunday issued an apology for attending a protest calling for ultra-Orthodox men to serve in the IDF.
His participation in a rally last month outside of the Bnei Brak yeshiva led by Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, who died last week at the age of 100, resulted in a boycott of the company by the haredi community.
Angel Bakeries, Israel’s largest commercial bakery, produces a third of the country’s bread market.
Barlev’s apology came in the form of a letter submitted to Edelstein’s sons following a shivah condolence visit. The company’s CEO, Yaron Angel, joined Barlev at the home of the late “Lithuanian” haredi leader’s relatives and left his own written apology for the incident.
In the letter, Barlev said that reports placing him near Edelstein’s home during the protest were false and that it was not his intention to target the rabbi for protest.
“I meant to express a personal position and certainly not to hurt or go against the greatest of the generation. If I had been aware in advance of the situation we found ourselves in and the feeling of hurt, I certainly would have avoided it,” Barlev wrote.
“For this I express my sorrow and apologize from the bottom of my heart. I see the existence of the Torah and its students as an important value in the Israeli tradition, and that’s not what I protested against.”
Angel wrote that he regretted not apologizing immediately after the issue came to their attention.
“In real-time, we thought such a reaction [an apology] would involve the company in political matters, something in which, for decades, we have not wanted to get involved. But this silence was interpreted as a further insult. We are sorry for this and apologize wholeheartedly,” Angel said.
President Isaac Herzog mediated between leaders of the haredi community and the management of Angel Bakeries for the latter to issue a formal apology and end the boycott.