Orthodox NYC Jews protest proposed Israeli draft

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NEW YORK (AP) — A group of ultra-Orthodox Jews is staging a mass prayer in New York City to protest Israel's proposal to draft strictly religious citizens into its army.

Sunday's gathering in Manhattan brings together a community of New York's most Orthodox Jews. They're based in Brooklyn and in the village of Kiryas Joel (KEER'-yahs joh-EHL') in Orange County, north of the city.

Protester Yitz Farkas (yihtz FAHR'-kahs), an American citizen, says religious Jews should not be forced to join a secular army. Protesters also say they're against Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They believe Israel should exist only after their Messiah arrives.

On Sunday, organizers said they would honor their tradition of separating men from women at religious events by doing the same at the rally.

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