Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Spitting on Girls is Not the Main Problem

Charedi zealotry has been a hot topic in Israel over the last few weeks, and Bet Shemesh is the hotspot this week. Today, a huge rally will take place, sparked by a moving interview that aired on television last week. It featured an eight-year-old girl who was traumatized from going to her school, Orot, due to charedi extremists who scream at her and spit on her.

Now, I do not mean for one moment to minimize the awful nature of the situation with the Orot girls. I am extremely upset by it, and I was at several rallies to protest what has been happening there. However, I am concerned that there is an excessive focus on that particular situation which distracts from the larger problem and even plays into it.

The vast majority of charedim are horrified and disgusted at the thought of screaming at girls and spitting on them - or indeed at anyone. These are the actions of a fringe lunatic element that are detested by everyone. But as such, it's easy for charedim, including Mayor Abutbol, to give television interviews protesting their behavior. This neatly enables them to avoid the more general problem, which is this: At every level in charedi society, there is a certain degree of intolerance towards non-charedim, which is never protested by those to their left in charedi society.

That formulation is a little technical, so allow me to illustrate it. The rabbonim and residents of RBS-B (the area where the hooligans are based), and some extreme Charedi rabbonim and residents of RBS-A (such as Rav Perlstein, and certain people in the Kupa Shel Tzedakah in RBS-A), do not support these acts of thuggery against women and children. However, they don't think that it's all that terrible, they agree with its ultimate aims, and they will not actively protest it. And they do support less extreme forms of physical/verbal opposition to non-Charedim - e.g. "encouraging" stores into putting up signs about tzniyus, and incidents such as when Rav Perlstein led a group to break up a concert in RBS-A due to it mixing charedi and non-charedi elements of the population.

The mainstream Charedi rabbonim and residents of RBS-A, such as Rav Kornfeld and the Chadash newspaper, are utterly disgusted at the idea of any physical violence or verbal intimidation of non-charedim - it's so obviously criminal to them that they don't even see a need to make it clear that they oppose it. And they do not support the approach of the RBS-B rabbonim and the extreme Charedi rabbonim. But they will not speak out against them. They will not show any support for the Orot girls. And they do support milder attempts to impose Chareidi mores on the rest of the city and to oppose non-Charedim (which is how non-Charedim were driven out of Betar). Examples include signing notices against women dressing in a non-tzniyus manner, prohibiting the dati-leumi charity organization LeMaan Achai from fundraising in their shuls (which long predates the dispute over how to handle child abuse), hostility to TOV (the non-Daas Torah neo-charedi party), and occasional displays of opposition to achdus with non-charedim - when some people tried to arrange an achdus shiur after some tragic deaths of children, these shuls would only co-operate if the speakers were all charedi and the event was not called an achdus event!

The moderate Charedi rabbonim and residents of RBS-A dislike any form of opposition to non-charedim. But they won't protest the actions of the previous group, because they see themselves as being on the same general team. Furthermore, due to their interest in furthering their own desires for the city, they vote for charedi parties which strengthen more right-wing charedim and which implement changes (such as destroying green areas to make room for cheap housing) that end up driving away non-charedim. And the moderate charedim generally won't even protest the crazy lunatics. Virtually none attended the rallies in sympathy of Orot. One Rav, for whom I generally have the greatest respect, said that to protest the crazy lunatics would strengthen the mistaken impression that he and they are in any way part of the same community. But it's not an entirely mistaken impression. There is a continuum in the Chareidi community. A borderline/ moderate Charedi rav is not obligated to protest the lunatics to the same degree that a mainstream or extreme Charedi rav should protest them, but since he is affiliated with the mainstream and even extreme elements, he does have an obligation to protest to a much greater degree than an entirely non-charedi person.

The end result of all this is that while the crazy violent extremists are indeed only a fringe element, there is a much wider problem of charedi intolerance to non-charedim at many levels, and a general attitude of not protesting unacceptable intolerance that allows it to endure and proliferate. Furthermore, there is a general charedi belief that, once they are in the majority, the neighborhood should conform to charedi sensitivities; and they are generally working to increase the charedi percentage of the population (to bring the city in line with their spiritual ideals)!

Jonathan Rosenblum claimed in The Jerusalem Post that "There is no place for attempts to impose haredi mores on others." For someone who claims to be speaking for the mainstream charedi population (and who is a disciple of Rav Aharon Feldman), this is disingenuous. Many charedim might not consciously intend to impose charedi mores upon others, but this is certainly and inevitably what happens. It happened in Beitar and it's happening here. As a resident of Ramat Bet Shemesh for over a decade, I can attest to a continued attempt to "charedize" the city, which has driven many non-charedim away to Modiin and other towns. Those who engage in violent means to accomplish this are a fringe minority that most charedim detest - but there is a general charedi effort to accomplish this via non-violent means.

The fate of the city will be determined in the next election, two years from now. Anyone who votes for political parties such as Gimmel and mayoral candidates such as Abutbol is part of this problem.

121 comments:

  1. Excellent analysis. I agree 100%.

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  2. Word of the day: "Sikirim": Thugs who dress up in black clothes, have payot and beards and try to take over property and businesses by altering consumer and resident behavior via spitting, stone throwing, vandalism, and harassment. Taken from the name of a group of assassins named after the Sicarii from the time of the second Temple.

    Not to be confused with "Ultra-Orhtodox" or "Charedim" which they attempt to look like.


    I think once people realize this, there will be both protest, and a correction to the problem you describe.

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  3. One of the interesting results of the Charedization of RBS is here in Modi'in. This city was originally designed as a "Ir Chofshit" but now has a sizeable Religious minority (in Buchman and Kaizer the religious community if probably 50% or more) as more and more people flee Beit Shemesh or rule it out as an option when planning their aliya.

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  4. I am not a resident of Israel, so I may be out of line in commenting. I do believe that you have hit the nail on the head. It should be that whoever assumes the mantel of leadership MUST speak out against wrongs or fringe elements. Would they hold their tongues if someone was a child molester? (maybe that's a poor example) but my point is that they would condemn publicly someone who is a "fringe lunatic" if it was obvious that the person did something horrible. In this case silence implies consent. The silence is the problem. I have asked my Rov in my shul here in Flatbush to publicly address and condemn these acts, because it must be made known that the Achdus of normalcy needs to be supported by Jews everywhere. I will let you know what happens. In the video broadcast by channel 2, one of the Chareidim says that he feels he can act in this despicable way because "Rabbis" endorse this behavior. I do not know which Rabbis he is referring to, but maybe you do. And we should have every shul, organization and publication put them in "Charem" until this behavior is stopped.

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  5. Natan,

    I have reluctanly come to the conclusion that ALL haredim in Israel are the problem, even the enemy. I realize that they can be very nice on an individual level, but even the most liberal haredi will, at the end of the day, go along with what the extremists want (we have seen that already). As such, I don't see any hope for Israel and I have given up any thoughts of aliyah. If you want to see how Israel will look like in 30 years, just look at Iran.

    I am hoping you can tell me why I am wrong.

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  6. BTW, you are mentioned here:
    http://www.y-or.co.il/blog/2011/11/29/%D7%94%D7%A8%D7%91-%D7%93%D7%A8-%D7%9E%D7%99%D7%9B%D7%90%D7%9C-%D7%90%D7%91%D7%A8%D7%94%D7%9D-%D7%91%D7%A8%D7%90%D7%99%D7%95%D7%9F-%D7%9E%D7%A8%D7%AA%D7%A7-%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%99%D7%94%D7%99-%D7%90/#.TvmI3TWn_pJ

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  7. My wife and came to the same conclusion, unfortunately.
    It reminds me of what people always ask about the Moslem community: "Where are the moderates?"

    After watching that video, I had a desire for the whole story to be told. Meaning that this is only a fringe group of lunatics. I wanted to see some of the rest of the sane Charedi community represented. I myself am consciously choosing to reamain in the Charedi community for now despite disagreeing with most of the public policies. I still see a lot of good in a conservative approach. It is not an easy thing to openly protest this community. It is not exactly a fatwa, but it would definitely put anyone in a very awkward position in their community. There does not seem to be anyone to stand with.

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  8. I really appreciated this post - at dinner last night I shared my belief that the real concern isn't the horrendous behavior of a bunch of unhinged and misguided maniacs, but the passive support these hooligans have with the silence of moderate charedim, who don't agree with the methods but agree with the end goals.

    >>And they do support milder attempts to impose Chareidi mores on the rest of the city and to oppose non-Charedim (which is how non-Charedim were driven out of Betar).<<

    As a resident of Beitar in the earlier years when there was still a small dati leumi presence (18 years ago), 'milder attempts' isn't quite correct. Non-charedim were actively driven out by extremists - the self-appointed 'mishmeret hatzniut' - who slashed their tires, threw paint on their doors, left vitriolic notes at their door, and made them feel unsafe and threatened.

    The daati leumi community also wasn't allowed to have a school for their children in the city, and were forced to bus their young children out of the area. It was made very clear to them that they were unwelcome, and when I first heard about the Beit Shemesh situation, my first thought it that it was the same tactics used in Beitar. I was friendly with some of those who were forced out and am quite sure of my facts.

    The mehadrin busing came about when a petition went around, where everyone was asked to sign attesting to a communal desire for a segregated bus. We refused to sign, as did many other charedi families, but somehow they managed to get the official seating changed to men in front, women in the back. There were many who were convinced that many signatures on the petition were forged since it didn't match what the majority of residents of the city at the time wanted.

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  9. Lets all pray that Netanyahu pulls out a page out of Assad's book and sends the IDF into Beit Shemesh and well... the rest is history..

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  10. Too few are those that tell it like it is- thank you

    I say we take back this city in the name of real Torah

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  11. Jay, while you decide not to make Aliyah because of the thugs, you only empower them. They are more than happy to cause people like you to not come home to your birth right. Yasher Coach on making the problem worse for the rest of the Jewish nation.

    If you think these people have any lasting political power you are sadly mistaken.

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  12. Contrast the willingness of Dati Leumi rabbis in Israel, and Modern Orthodox rabbis in America, to speak out when they see things that are wrong. An example: Rav Lichtenstein, who does not often pick fights, took on Rav Shapira over the issue of IDF soldiers disobeying orders and pulled no punches.

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  13. Jay,

    What should be mentioned is that while the religious population will continue to grow in Israel this does not mean that most Israelis will ever be Haredi. The Haredi world will experience growing convulsions pushing many in a more worldly religious direction.

    I would also add that the mitzva of aliya exists regardless of who is in control here. Choosing to not move here is a cop out.

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  14. You are right, it is not about the girls. This is about who gets to structure our society. Ditto with the "Chillul Hashem" buses.

    The biggest question, to be determined in the near future, is the role of the government. Can it enforce the will of the majority consensus (quite traditional, but not Chareidi). Can it enforce the rule of law?

    It's one thing to participate in political parties, Chareidi or otherwise, but it's a whole other thing when those parties have to agree to discipline people who look like them.

    "Shoftim ve'Shotrim titen lecha"... sounds easy, doesn't it? Turns out - not so much.

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  15. “At every level in charedi society, there is a certain degree of intolerance towards non-charedim, which is never protested by those to their left in charedi society.”

    What you write is consistent with the haredi education I received. And, the spitting phenomenon is not new. Some 30 years ago, my wife and I were spat at in Geula. It was Friday night and the spit came from one of 4 balconies on which fathers and sons were learning shas. Ten years ago, in a mixed Rehovot neighborhood, I witnessed haredim spitting at a jogger. In both instances there was no "zealot" in sight. The difference between now and then is that then the offenders tried not to be identified and now they do not care whether they are identified or not.

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  18. Part of the problem, which I think your post addresses well, is that there are haredim that wish to live and let live - let's call them the Jonathan Rosenblum type haredim - and there are haredim that want to impose their standards on whichever community they live in - let's call them the Rav Perlstein type haredim. When a community tries to prevent haredim from becomming too much of a presence, we hear from the Jonathan Rosenblum haredim about how terrible and bigoted such discrimination is. But when the haredi community reaches a certain level of growth, you have the Rav Perlstein type haredim ruining public events that don't meet with their approval, extorting store owners to put up tzniut signs, and all the rest. It may be unfair to the silent majority of Jonathan Rosenblum type haredim, but until they manage to reign in the Rav Perlstein type haredim, I think communities are well within their rights to defend themselves against having too many haredim move in, since it is almost inevitable that the Rav Perlstein type haredim will do their part to make the community unpleasant for all non-haredim.

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  19. That was a great analysis. I don't however, think that there is anyway for the dynamics to change so long as the state is deeply involved in religious matters. Rabbi Broyde of the Rabbinical Council of America said it a couple years ago at Torah In Motion, that the only way to resolve things is through religious pluralism. The wrong people advance in Israel, and the right types of individuals advance here. These types of behaviors are mostly unknown in North America. The state should not fund any religious affairs. Religious favouritism is the sines hinem of our time. Even if the left doesn't trend to violence as much, both sides have their hands full with those who thrive on confrontation.

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  20. "Lets all pray that Netanyahu pulls out a page out of Assad's book and sends the IDF into Beit Shemesh and well... the rest is history.. "

    You mean the history of how Assad is going to be exiled or dead in a few months?

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  21. "One Rav, for whom I generally have the greatest respect, said that to protest the crazy lunatics would strengthen the mistaken impression that he and they are in any way part of the same community."

    Simple proof that he's wrong: if the extremists were doing something that is genuinely not acceptable to haredim such as advocating for college attendance, they'd protest vehemently, and boot them out vociferously.

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  22. "I would love Israel to be a proper Jewish country again- with both Haredim and Hilonim becoming properly torah observant, with a government of the like of Rav Kahane (who preached the True Torah way)."

    Holy bleep, you CAN'T be serious.

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  23. You are 100% correct that the Haredi world sets the stage for this. By keeping quiet about the so-called extremists the Haredi community is showing tacit consent. I believe the Haredi community in Bet-Shemesh to be a powerful one, and if they wished they could stop this behaviour. Many of them are happy to let the extremists to do their dirty work for them.

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  24. Examples include signing notices against women dressing in a non-tzniyus manner,

    Entirely within their rights. It is just a matter of degree between that and a Rav signing notices against opening a gentleman's club.

    prohibiting the dati-leumi charity organization LeMaan Achai from fundraising in their shuls (which long predates the dispute over how to handle child abuse),

    The political battlelines of the kupah vs. Lemaan Achai were drawn long ago. Lemaan Achai openly opposes and disputes kupah charity distribution hashkafah.

    And refusing an organization entry into your shul is "imposing?" How?

    hostility to TOV (the non-Daas Torah neo-charedi party),

    So? That is "imposing"????

    and occasional displays of opposition to achdus with non-charedim - when some people tried to arrange an achdus shiur after some tragic deaths of children, these shuls would only co-operate if the speakers were all charedi and the event was not called an achdus event!

    Because "achdus" equals "accept my hashkafah as legitimate, pretty please," and you know it. If anything, the people trying to arrange the shiur were trying to impose their demands for legitimacy. A shul Rav can refuse any speaker or agenda it pleases and doing so is not imposing on anyone.

    Maybe you are justified in your personal antipathy toward charedim. But that does not diminish the fact that you are truly blinded by it.

    Rav Malinowitz and Rav Kornfeld and people like them have no more responsibility to condemn this than they do people who don't say keri'as shema. Lumping all Charedim together is nothing but a politically-driven media and leftist hatefest of an agenda, and I salute the Rabbis for not playing their game.

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  25. Well at least the leadership are proving they get it; just take a look at Rav Elyashiv's letter published in the Yated today. As he says, the biggest issue we face is that some charedim are contributing to the country and educating themselves. This is a very slippery slope - soon we may even witness charedim standing up for the rights of children to not be spat at, rachmono litzlon.

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  26. I will tell you an amazing thing...something that will utterly fascinate you. People who are working hard and trying to make a parnasa, and learn Torah, and perform mitzvot, including tzedakah, do not have time to protest. Example: In the United States, there was a backlash against the occupy wallstreet protesters by non other than normal everyday working people, who were aghast that instead of working, or going to school to get skills to get jobs, people were wasting their time and the resources of society by spending their days and nights living in tents in public parks (funny thing, on my last trip to Israel I saw the same thing!). And the worst part is the media. When they "smell" a good story they just can't wait to blow it all out of proportion. After all, sensationalism sells advertising space.

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  27. I would like to add that the word "tolerance" can sometimes be foreign to Judaism. Those who violate G-d's commands may be tolerated to varying degrees depending on time and circumstance but their actions are not exactly tolerable.

    The question of what precisely G-d commands is a separate issue...

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  28. So wrong:

    1.) If haredi rabbis don't grant "legitimacy" to other Orthodox haskafot then this is a severe fault of theirs. This in and of itself is worthy of withering criticism if this is the reason why they oppose achdus shiurim.

    2.)We are not expecting them to condemn those who don't say kriat sh'ma because those are secular Jews. We expect the haredi rabbis to condemn haredi extremists since those extremists are haredi who have veered too far to the right. They should condemn them just as they would condemn haredim who veer too far to their left.

    The moral and spiritual bankruptcy of the haredi world on these issues cries out to the heavens.

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  29. "a government of the like of Rav Kahane (who preached the True Torah way)."

    Rav Kahane distorted the Torah's views on non-Jews. And members of his organization carried out terrorist attacks in the US, one of which killed a Jewish woman. More than a decade later, in an interview that his followers posted to their own web site, he responded to a question about that incident, "Things happen". We'd be screaming bloody murder, and rightly so, if an Arab leader said something like that.

    "Why cant you take care of these criminals yourselves? "

    More evidence that the Kahanists can be every bit as bad as the Charedi extremists. They just dress differently.

    "there was a backlash against the occupy wallstreet protesters by non other than normal everyday working people, who were aghast that instead of working, or going to school to get skills to get jobs, people were wasting their time and the resources of society by spending their days and nights living in tents in public parks"

    Indeed that was a backlash from a city that largely agrees with the protesters that voted 79% for Barack Obama, and according to polls strongly believes that Wall Street needs a lot more regulation. It is quite accomplishment to alienate people who basically agree with you!

    "The question of what precisely G-d commands is a separate issue."

    Whether God commands men to spit on elementary school girls is a question?

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  30. Yasher koach for presenting the larger picture. I would just add that the Hareidi rabbinic figures who oppose the Hareidi hooligans should be taking the lead in protesting their actions. In the absence of such publicized vocal protest and deligitimization, the general public both in Israel and abroad draws the conclusion that Orthodox Jews and their beliefs are both anachronistic and repugnant. The distinction between the various factions in Orthodoxy is not apparent to outsiders. The NBC news last night spoke about the violent protests of "Orthodox" Jews in Bet Shemesh. It's getting to the point that I'm embarrassed to be identified by appearance and dress as an Orthodox Jew. More importantly, the behavior of these hooligans is a tremendous desecration of the divine Name since they claim to act in the name of torah values.

    The current bad publicity of the hooliganism and counter protest may do some good. However, it seems to me that pressure must be exerted on the moderate rabbinic figures to speak out publically against the hooliganism and attempts to control the public areas of the cities. As has been noted, "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem".

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  31. I have a simple idea. Move some charedim to Yitzhar, then have them start up with the Tag Machir folks. That should kill two birds with one stone right there.

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  32. I don't know that Rosenblum claims to speak for all haredim. Like you've noted in the past, he's displayed a bit of an independent streak in his writings. Not much, but it's there.

    I think he's an awful opinion journalists, we've caught him out on a bunch of claims that aren't true (on science, on J-Street, on Obama...whatever), but here he's right in saying kannaim ought not to be doing what they're doing. The gedolim won't say it, good of him to.

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  33. HaRazieli,

    1) is utterly beside the point. That's your opinion, and you're entitled to it, as various groups of Charedim are to theirs. By the same token, yell at and picket Rav Hershel Schachter, who is one of the most outspoken critics on this planet of various self-defined Orthodox hashkafos.

    2) No they aren't "Charedim" who have veered too far to the right. They are "Charedim" who are defined as such for political purposes, by the media and leftists, who have descended into depravity and barbarism. (The petitions by well-meaning people like Rabbi Yakov Horowitz will have been proven effective when the media stops referring to spitters as "Charedim." Don't hold your breath.) A well-oiled propaganda machine could engineer, by the same token, that they are Datiyim who have veered too far to the right, Jews who have veered too far to the right, anti-Zionists who have veered too far to the right, or human beings who have veered too far to the right. Anyone who thinks Charedism =, or even mildly tolerates, spitting on little girls (and no secular Jews except the agenda driven ones believe that, and perhaps they themselves don't, it is just useful agitprop)is an ignorant bigot who has swallowed media propaganda whole.

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  34. "So wrong" falls fairly neatly into the second of the three categories that I discussed in this post, and pretty much confirms the thrust of the entire post. Thanks!

    To those who are submitting comments about Kahane - this is NOT the topic of this thread.

    And a reminder - anonymous comments are not posted.

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  35. " No they aren't "Charedim" who have veered too far to the right. They are "Charedim" who are defined as such for political purposes, by the media and leftists, who have descended into depravity and barbarism."

    They define THEMSELVES as charedim.

    Wait, I know what you're going to say: They're sick and deluded and aren't capable of defining themselves as anything and it's not YOUR fault that they call themselves charedim, so why do you have any responsibility for reining them in, right?

    Agree with Rav Slifkin, you are a perfect example of what he described in the article.

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  36. So wrong,

    You are so wrong!

    You said:

    The political battlelines of the kupah vs. Lemaan Achai were drawn long ago. Lemaan Achai openly opposes and disputes kupah charity distribution hashkafah.

    This line is quite key to the issue:

    1. So of they disagree why is this a basis for not allowing them into shuls? I daven in a shul where the head of Lema'an Achai also davens and our rav is very involved in lema'an Achai. Kupa is welcomed to collect in our shul.

    2. Have you seen recent Kupa advertising (how can you miss it)?
    It comes right out of Lema'an Achai's philosophy and key words. Until the last couple of years Kupa never used words such as rehabilitation, etc. Their campaigns were totally give money to pay bills, etc.

    3. The very same shuls that don't allow Lema'an Achai will allow any Tom, Dick or Harry collect no matter from where or for what they are asking. Yet Lema'an Achai a charity helping their friends and neighbors is forbidden...only because they aren't Charedi enough?

    Give me a break!

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  37. I agree, calling them Chareidim is a problem. Just as I would resent being associated with the "Tag Mechir" lawlessness, despite the fact that my sons wear kippas that look like theirs, all the Chareidim I know would resent being associated with those people.

    So who are they, and what do they call themselves?

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  38. Fifty four years ago, this iconic photo of a young woman on her way to school forced a complacent nation to face the bigotry which was festering beneath the surface of their society.

    We need now another such galvanizing image, one which will awaken the chareidi world to the intolerance that has been growing ever worse within their communities.

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  39. They define THEMSELVES as charedim.

    I'm sorry, you don't seem to get it.

    A Chiloni who murders defines HIMSELF as a Chiloni, but does the media refer to him as a Chiloni? No, because they understand he isn't murdering in the name of Chilonism.

    A terrorist who blows up a bus defines HIMSELF as a Muslim, but does HaAretz refer to him as a Muslim? No, because the PC propaganda machine party line is that he isn't doing so in the name of Islam. Rightly or wrongly.

    But a Charedi spitter is called "a Charedi spitter." When any honest person knows that that isn't Charedism.

    Now do you get it?

    Rabbi Slifkin's glib retort is disappointing. He is usually more forthcoming with an admission of an argument of his having been dismantled.

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  40. Thank you for this article Natan.

    If you ask me, I think we (modern orthodox) should take a more active role as well in dealing with this rise in extremism. There is no reason that there should be a giant sign at the entrance to Ramat Beit Shemesh 'A' welcoming people to the "Charedi shopping center" with large bold red letters in the center stating "Livush Tznuah". That shopping center is not Charedi! That sign should not be up there. We should get it taken down. Either protest its presence or take it down ourselves! I am available to be involved in such a task.

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  41. Danny,

    Let's not be Pollyanna-ish about this. Unlike individuals who collect as anonymous needy people, LeMaan Achai is an organization that has an overt political message and heavy baggage. A shul Rav has a right to refuse entry to a tzedakah with an agenda that is quite openly hostile to what that Rav stands for.

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  42. My professor recently gave a talk concerning fanatics. It was quite an appropriate description of how certain groups use fanatics to do what they think should be done, but aren't willing to do themselves. He was speaking in terms of the Roman Empire using fanatic christian groups to destroy synagogues, something the government couldn't at the time do, but didn't mind having someone to blame as things went the way they wanted them.

    Today's modern Charedi is doing the same thing. They don't per say want to go out and harass girls, but since they oppose the ideals of the school, they do not oppose the fanatics who become a convenient scapegoat for the bad aspects of harassing them, while agreeing with the foundational principles of what they're doing.

    Even further, the government of Israel as well is actively participating and enabling such groups by refusing to crack down on them. Such groups never occurred in Europe because such people would have been swiftly arrested, but because Israel wishes to capitulate to the Charedim to a certain degree, they ignore the problem as a "religious dispute" instead of literal terrorists harassing Jews.

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  43. What is needed here besides a show of intolerance by the charedi leaders (which will never happen) is, as stated in Avos,2:2 "Any study of Torah when not accompanied by a worldly occupation must fail in the end and become the cause of sin."

    In other words, the charedim need jobs, and the one organization that help them in this matter is LeMaan Achai (www.lemaanachai.org ). Actually of all places based in, Bet Shemesh, where it is (obviously) needed the most.

    And as you have said that, they are "prohibiting the dati-leumi charity organization LeMaan Achai from fundraising in their shuls" is like shooting themselvse in the foot.
    People without a jobs can lead them to insecurity.

    Which brings me to Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Rosh Yeshiva of YU until 1993, whom had put it this way,
    "All extremism, fanaticism, and obscurantism [opposition to the spread of knowledge] come from a lack of security. A person who is secure cannot be an extremist."

    I.e. A person with a job is less likely to be an extremist. And will have no time to terrorize little girls.

    Therefore if we what to see the beginning of this problem, or (if you will) part of this problem solved, we must support true and sincere organizations such as "LeMaan Achai." which by the way, dose not conduct hand outs mind you, but helps people is Israel obtain and maintain a meaningful livelihood.
    At least its a start.
    o

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  44. The main point is that the haredi spokespeople and leaders are at best quiet. This is unacceptable. To add salt, these same people will attack safe targets such as Rabbi Slifkin

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  45. So wrong

    "Rav Malinowitz and Rav Kornfeld and people like them have no more responsibility to condemn this than they do people who don't say keri'as shema. Lumping all Charedim together is nothing but a politically-driven media and leftist hatefest of an agenda, and I salute the Rabbis for not playing their game. "

    I appreciate that being told to do something or be portrayed as quasi-evil is not a good choice. But think of which is really the worse choice?

    Do you salute them for taking the worse position? This is not going away. Chareidim are on a slippery slope toward being perceived as akin to Islamists. Maybe it's a pity that this is happening, but happening it is.

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  46. I know a chap who lives in a certain chasidic enclove and who is ostensibly gay. He's worked on himself through therapy and now has a beautiful family.He likes to look at men but that's as far as it goes. He has told me of the gay mikvahs where you don't want to know what goes on!!He can instantly recognise someone else who is gay and says his rebbe is surrounded, attracts gay men. this is not to say that the rebbe himself is of that perssuasion, but he gives off a'vibe'. Because the chasidish community is so inulated it probably breeds 'outsiders'. It's very hard to differentiate someone with a odd (harmless) idyocincracy/eccentricity with someone with a more deep rooted psychological problem that can be just left to fester. The problem is is that the rabbonim of communities don't want to deal with this. Let me take a cat out of the bag.Benzion Dunner of London was a coke addict. I know this from a family member. His father, Abba Dunner tried to elicit the help from the Skverer Rebbe, who Benzi was close to. Abba, despite being seriously ill knew the Rebbe was visiting a certain kever in Europe. Abba, with a nurse flew to visit the rebbe to ask whether he could intervene and get Benzi into rehab. The rebbe refused to do so.Shortly after, Benzi invited the rebbe to London with a pledge of $10,000,000, where he was donating a sefer torah in memory of his mother. Benzi's close family didn't show up. On Purim the following year, Benzi was killed in a car crash when his car skidded on black ice outside Bournmouth.Blood tests showed Benzi had cocain in his blood.People were naturally don zechus zchus,saying that someone must have slipped it into his drink on purim night.Alas,no.The rabbonim are all in total denial. How can one of the biggest askonim, 'G-d's postman, as Benzi was described in the secular press, be a junkie. And yes, he was a mensch.That o urim night he gve away at least £1,000,000 icluding his sensitivety to a man who had come to (I think,his modest) house to raise funds for a project. Despite the weather that night being awful and he had no coat awful, he had no coat,Benzi took out a wad of money for him to buy a coat.A mensch, but one with his own demons who could have been helped. that's one reason our youth face such challenges today. The drug problem is huge and affects every aspect of jewish life.Tje Sverer Rebbe possibly could have persuaded to encourage Bezion Dunner to rehab and saved his life. He didn't.This has been very painful for me to put down. I don't belsive it's loshan hra because I beleive some good can come out of it. WE HAVE TO DEVELOP A PUBLIC ARENA FOR SERIOUS DEBATEThe problem is not going away, it's deterioating and people, includind communal leaders have to take responsibility. The rebbes , shakers & Movers know what's going on and have to speak out.

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  47. Rabbi Slifkin: Thanx for nailing down the insidious dynamics at play. Once that is done, it is much easier to tackle the problem head-on IMHO.

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  48. The chareidi clowns from Degel in the Knesset attempting to spin this into another "everyone hates chareidim" issue are a bunch of no good liars - no better than Jesse Jackson here in the USA.

    Fortunately, this old smelly tactic from the wornout pathetic chareidi playbook will not work this time.

    Attempting to paint these chayos as mere "hooligans" when in fact they are chareidim doing the dirty work - will also not work.

    Thanks to the internet, rags like Yated and other such similar repugnant publications have been rendered completely unreliable.

    People have woken up.

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  49. > ) No they aren't "Charedim" who have veered too far to the right. They are "Charedim" who are defined as such for political purposes, by the media and leftists, who have descended into depravity and barbarism.

    Have you ever heard of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy?

    If they think of themselves as Chareidim, live in the Chareidi community, share the Chareidi hashkafa, and dress and otherwise conform to Chareidi social norms, then they are Chareidim. Perhaps Chareidim who are outliers and don’t represent normative Chareidi behavior, but Chareidim nonetheless.


    The tacit approval of these zealots by the Chareidi community (by its silence if nothing else) is repugnant. The impression it gives is that while the average member of the community is not so crass as to shout at little girls, they feel that this is what the girls deserve. Harassing little girls is in bad taste, but it’s not wrong. As SQ said, certainly not as wrong as something like encouraging college attendance.

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  50. I'm not sure I understand the criticism of "charedi intolerance". That's the whole kuntz of the charedi system, after all! They don't want anything that dilutes the "purity of the camp."

    Chastising charedim for being intolerant is in effect declaring war on charedism. The better route (aside from gently pushing for more enlightened religiosity) is to let charedim be charedim and simply make sure that the reasonable needs of the non-charedi population are met. Such as...

    1) The ability to walk through and congregate in public spaces without being required/asked to conform to charedi norms.

    2) The expectation that violence/intimidation on the part of hooligans is met with swift and decisive police action.

    3) Implementation of fair housing policies and an end to undue favoritism by city leaders.

    The local BS/RBS leadership (political & rabbinic) is not just going to grant these needs. They will have to be fought for and will likely require the political leverage of lawmakers higher up in the Israeli govt who are sympathetic to the cause.

    But this is the right kind of fight - a fight to see that one's needs are met. NOT a fight against charedism per se.

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  51. I don't know what makes me more needing of a barfbag. The mafiosos harrassing little girls or charlie hall spouting his ghetto mentality gobbledy goop. It's a surprisingly close call!

    "Taking care of the criminals" as a kahanist commenter here suggested is 'as bad as the charedi extremists?' How so? These nuts are physically attacking people. If someone does "take care of them" it's self defense. And it will send a message a lot stronger than any police kid-gloves are sending, and certainly a stronger deterrent than some meaningless counter-protests that they probably laugh at.

    And about "distorting the Torah's view on non-Jews" That's an awfully vague accusation, but I would like to know where were all those genius rebbeim in his day who could challenge his sources and prove him wrong (about whatever it is you're referring to)? Oh right...

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  52. I totally concur with you analysis and even remember the sad demise of the dati Leumi community in Beitar. However its hard to say that the roots of this kind of extremism are not present in the Talmud and even in some Halachic sources. When Rav Ada Bar Ahava tore off a woman's offensive red dress (Brachot 20a) he was not thinking PC he was like an ox which saw red (according to the Aruch's interpretation there). Some Kanaim may even be Lesheim Shamayim, but definitely not those who target 8 year old girls.

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  53. "Have you ever heard of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy?

    If they think of themselves as Chareidim, live in the Chareidi community, share the Chareidi hashkafa, and dress and otherwise conform to Chareidi social norms, then they are Chareidim. Perhaps Chareidim who are outliers and don’t represent normative Chareidi behavior, but Chareidim nonetheless. "

    So according to you, Jews believe in Jesus.

    As I wrote at the beginning, they are Sikrikim, not Charedim.

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  54. Based on some comments from various places, it seems that even when Charedi Rabbis DO speak out against this type of behavior, or going too machmir, it goes unnoticed.


    There was a big outcry against "Taliban Women", and yet, people ask why the Charedim aren't stopping them. And instead of saying "Yasher Koach", I just see people making posts which essentially say, "This is your fault, see what you have done!?"

    In this sort of environment, no progress or achdus can be achieved.

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  55. "So who are they, and what do they call themselves?"

    Kira,
    Sikrikim, or Sikarim.. it's hard to tell how to spell it in english.

    If you search google for the term, you will see it going back a couple years.

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  56. Re: What is Charedi
    Re: No True Scotsman

    The word Charedi comes from the Hebrew verb "to tremble". They are people who are so intently concerned with serving G-d correctly, that they tremble at the thought of making a mistake, or G-d forbid, intentionally sinning.

    I'm not Charedi, and I disagree with many practices of the Charedim. However, I do have friends in some Charedi communities, including in RBS.

    "No True Scotsman" doesn't apply when the definition of the term itself is abrogated by the action in question.

    Wikipedia's example of this is: "No true vegetarians eat meat".

    In the same way, it is a violation of halacha to harass, spit at, intimidate, or hurt a fellow Jew.

    Since the definition of Charedi is one who trembles at the thought of sinning, and goes to extreme lengths to avoid any transgression; anyone who does these things is NOT Charedi, nor is he a religious Jew of any kind.

    It doesn't matter how they dress, where they live, what hechshers they don't eat, etc; once somebody publicly, intentionally, and proudly violates halacha - and does not regret his act - he is no longer practicing Judaism.

    The more accurate headline would be "former Charedim" or "people dressed as Charedim" or simply "band of thugs" harass and spit on girls in Beit Shemesh.

    The left-wing press has already falsely defined the terms.

    Those in the RBS community who oppose these attacks are labeled "moderate Charedim".

    This is terrible!!! This feeds into the band of thugs' narrative; that they are the really "frum" ones, and everyone else is "moderate".

    We cannot allow the media to define the terms. The thugs are not religious Jews. Period.

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  57. Although I strongly support your cause, I think it was a disastrous mistake to invite politicians like Tzippi Livni to the demonstration. Politicans do not come to these sorts of protests, l'shem shamayim, they come to make political hay and to hijack people's involvement in the protest.
    Let's be honest, THE ONLY REASON THE MEDIA IS PLAYING UP THESE INCIDENTS IS BECAUSE THE HAREDI PARTIES ARE IN THE COALITION WITH THE LIKUD. The Left is going to run the next election campaign on the platform "The Likud has sold the country out to the Haredim". It was this slogan that led the Left to victory over incumbent Likud governments in 1992 and 1999. The 1992 results led to the Oslo agreements disaster.
    The Left, if they win would put the Haredim in their coalition and GIVE THEM MORE "for the sake of the peace process" as they would put it.
    If the Left were in power now, there would be NO media coverage of the harrassment of the girls at the Orot school. The media are not "neutral" protectors of the public's right to know, they serve the political interests of various parties.
    Having a completely cynical politician like Tzippi Livno who flip-flops all over the map in addition to her role in the crime of the destruction of Gush Katif come to such a rally discredits it in many peoples' eyes.
    I want to also point out another thing....there is a bizarre and quiet but real alliance between the far Left and the extremist Haredim. It was the Left that took control of the Chief Rabbinate, which had been run for many years by Religious Zionists and gave it to the Haredim. Why is this? A couple of reasons...the Left enjoys seeing religious extremism because it discredits the Orthodox/religious community in the eyes of the non-religious Israelis, having internal fights among different religious groups weakens them (this was a critical factor allowing Sharon to push through the destruction of Gush Katif) and the Left views the Religious Zionists as a bigger threat because of their identification with the Judea/Samaria settlement movement and because their more tolerant presentation of Orthodox Judaism is more attractive to the general non-religious population.
    Thus, it is important that those involved in these protests keep their eyes open and not let alien interests hijack it for their own negative aims.

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  58. "This is terrible!!! This feeds into the band of thugs' narrative; that they are the really "frum" ones, and everyone else is "moderate"."

    100% Agree.

    I wish more people would be open to calling them Sikrikim. But their hatred for Charedim does not allow them to do that. They want to tar everyone with the same brush, no matter if it is just or not.

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  59. So Wrong

    "LeMaan Achai is an organization that has an overt political message and heavy baggage."

    And what, pray tell, is that message and baggage?

    Please enlighten us rather than use ambiguous terminology.

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  60. Since the definition of Charedi is one who trembles at the thought of sinning, and goes to extreme lengths to avoid any transgression; anyone who does these things is NOT Charedi, nor is he a religious Jew of any kind.

    You suggest that anyone who violates any halacha at any time is thereby not Haredi. That would reduce the Haredi population to exactly 36 - the number of hidden righteous persons in the world.

    Furthermore, these persons consider the activity in question to be righteous, very much so a "big mitzva".

    A more effective definition here to consider the person's institutional affiliation(s) and conformance with said community's standards of dress, residence, and lifestyle.

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  61. I just heard the main mid-day news headlines on Israel's Reshet Bet news ration station. This justified protest is turning into a GENERAL ANTI-RELIGIOUS WITCH HUNT. In the news they started attacking National Religous people in some town for perceived "religious coercion" and they are attacking the religious soldiers in the IDF as well. They are mixing together different issues, such as the schoolgirls harrassment with the bus segregation and the women singing in the IDF which are very different issues, as I see it.
    IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THE BEIT SHEMESH PROTEST ORGANIZERS EJECT OF THE MEDIA AND THE POLITICIANS who, like leeches, are attaching themselves to this and are going to such the blood out of it. The Haredi media then reports what the anti-religious media (the three big newspapers, the TV and state radio) are saying and they use it to "stir up their own ranks" in support of the extremists because they use it to claim that this is a general anti-religious campaign, which it does seem to be becoming. That will lead to the whole protest movement backfiring.

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  62. I was at the demo last night and was very impressed with the demonstrators and the speakers. It pointedly did not have an anti-chareidi message - I did not hear it from the speakers or the chiloni youth that I was standing next to. It was a moderate and live and let live philosophy vs. fanatics and Kefiyah message. The demonstrators were peaceful, their chants and signs were respectful and on point. And Tzippi Livni spoke eloquently and with passion and gave voice to what a lot of people (including myself) thought. Last night I cared less about her politics and effectiveness as a politician and much more about the unified message coming from everyone there. The only way to effect change is for the moderates (on this issue) to stick together and I for one felt galvanized and part of an important cause. As opposed to the demos this summer with vague objectives I think we have some clear objectives here which can be fought for: Crack down on violence/abuse, balanced housing policy, taking down intimidating signs in public places and streets, no more forced separation on public buses. I am hopeful the tide can be turned in the short run.

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  63. turning into a GENERAL ANTI-RELIGIOUS WITCH HUNT

    Of course it is. Rather there always was and will be a general anti-religious witch hunt going on out there and it is beyond naive to think that the RBS Orot school incidents would not be used as ammunition.

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  64. "You suggest that anyone who violates any halacha at any time is thereby not Haredi. That would reduce the Haredi population to exactly 36 - the number of hidden righteous persons in the world."

    Is that what Adam really wrote?

    Adam wrote: "; once somebody publicly, intentionally, and proudly violates halacha - and does not regret his act - he is no longer practicing Judaism."

    Who else "publicly, intentionally, and proudly violates halacha"?

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  65. Ameteur - point well taken, except that those "whatever-you-call'ems" screaming at the Orot girls will spurn any contention that they are violating halacha.

    Now please don't counter with erudite talmudic proofs or otherwise that they are indeed violating halacha. It is not at all the point. Rather, THEY consider their own actions to be praiseworthy and even altruistic and they certainly consider themselves to be Haredi. The "no good Scotsman" fallacy applies with flying colors.

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  66. Yitz,

    Read these postings. They are Sikirim, and not Charedim.

    http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/week-s-end/fanning-the-flames-1.317909

    http://shearim.blogspot.com/2011/08/sikarikim-in-mea-shearim.html

    http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2011/10/the-messiah-of-mea-shearim-456.html

    http://shearim.blogspot.com/2011/04/sikarikim-against-toldot-aharon-chassid.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikrikim

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2050573/Ultra-strict-Jewish-sect-trashes-ice-cream-parlour-claiming-licking-cones-public-promotes-promiscuity.html

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2050573/Ultra-strict-Jewish-sect-trashes-ice-cream-parlour-claiming-licking-cones-public-promotes-promiscuity.html

    http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=108835

    http://matzav.com/sikrikim-sickos-vandalize-mannys-seforim-store-in-yerushalayim


    They follow no Rabbi, and create their own support.

    Sure they might believe they are following halacha, but so do Jews for Jesus, Conservative and any other group of Jews who don't follow halacha.

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  67. While I agree with much of what this article expresses, I have to take issue with the basic assumption that "Haredism" is a separate religion from Orthodox Judaism. At this point in time, there has not yet been a schism between "Modern (or Dati-Leumi) Orthodoxy" and "Haredi Orthodoxy". Despite much vitriol on both sides against the other, no mainstream Rabbonim on either side consider the other to be non-Orthodox in general. This is especially true from the point of view of the MO world, whose Rabbonim have respect for the Haredi poskim and Roshei Yeshivos, however strongly they may disagree with them on many issues. The problems discussed here, therefore, are problems for all Orthodox Jews and not just for a subgroup called (by themselves or by others) "Haredim".

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  68. Yitz Waxman-

    It doesn't matter if the Sikrikim (thanks ameteur) think they are following halacha.

    They aren't.

    If a person thinks that chicken is a vegetable, that doesn't make him a vegetarian.

    I agree that the Sikrikim think that their acts are praiseworthy. Maybe they are praiseworthy; by some other religion.

    Their actions are condemned by Judaism. When they act in that manner, they are not following Judaism.

    They're not Charedi. They just wear a similar costume.

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  69. Aharon Haber-
    I am glad you enjoyed the demonstration. Everyone felt good....brotherhood.....unity...all the nice things. But you were preaching to the converted. What is such a demonstration supposed to accomplish and who is it supposed to influence. If the idea is to mobilize Haredi moderates to move against the extremists, I don't see how this demonstration is going to help. The extremists certainly couldn't care less about the demonstration, and as I said, the mainline Haredim will interpret it as being "anti-haredi" if it wasnt' because you mobilized people from KADIMA and other parties that contain anti-religious elements. This means the local politicians who need the haredi vote won't be moved by the demonstration.
    It seems to me that pin-point action is required and that would mean having some guards stationed at the school and escorting the girls and even confronting the hooligans with baseball bats if necessary.
    At this point, the bus segregation and separate sidewalks are a secondary issue. Police commander Danino says he will send "hundreds" of police to protect the sign removers, as if the police don't have any other crime, violent or not, to worry about. That is why this is not the best focus at this point in the struggle.

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  70. The problems in Bet Shemesh are not only caused by Sikrikim. Didn't people read the post?

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  71. Adam Since the definition of Charedi is one who trembles at the thought of sinning, and goes to extreme lengths to avoid any transgression; anyone who does these things is NOT Charedi, nor is he a religious Jew of any kind.

    You know, if you look up words in the dictionary you will note that generally they have more than one useage. Preferring one over the others does not change this.

    You are correct about your philological description of the origin of the term "Chareidim," but you are ignoring that there are other definitions, including the sociological one. The same thing would go for Chassidism, which also means "Pious" or "Pietist," but if "lo yihye am haaretz chassid" is true, then that means that scores of people who are called and call themselves Chassidim are not Chassidim at all. (I say that not in a spirit of hisnagdus, but simply to point out that the term Chassid also has a sociological definition.)

    Similarly, just as "Sikrikim" do not *only* mean people who lived over 1900 years ago, Chareidim do not *only* mean people who fear sin. In fact, if that is all the term means, then this applies to many modern Orthodox Jews and gentiles, not to mention Chareidi babies, who certainly aren't fearful of sin, but are certainly Chareidi.

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  72. Their actions are condemned by Judaism

    Their actions are not condemned by prominent RBS Haredi Rabbis such as Rabbi Malinowitz

    Look folks - absolutely no one outside of the Haredi fold is impressed by characterizations of Sikirim as "non-Haredi", and there are good reasons for this. Smug statements along the lines of "we have nothing to do with these people" only further alienate the public at large. Only forceful statements of condemnation such as that fromRabbi Horowitz will gain credibility to the mainstream Haredi community. I hope that I can achieve common ground with Adam and Amateur on this point.

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  73. Rabbis in Israel spared no effort to condemn R'Slifkin and R'Druckman. Rabbis in American and spared no effort to condemn R'Weiss and R'Linzer. And the response to Rabbi Steve Greenberg was instantaneous.

    The relative lack of response from the leading rabbis on this issue says something.

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  74. It seems that some of the commentors didn't get the point of R' Natan's post. The problem is not primarily the hooligans, whether you call them 'fanatical Hareidim' or 'Sikrikim' (actually, 'sick reikim' would be a more appropriate pronounciation). It is with the Hareidi rabbis and rebbes who remain silent in the face of such contemptible acts done in the name, ostensibly, of halacha. R' Natan is also correct that the problem appears to be systemic in todays Hareidi world - at least in Israel. R' Harry is also correct in his post which calls the above rabbis, 'enablers'.

    As to the perps, themselves, the guy who was interviewed in that video claimed that as a 'normal' male, he felt that seeing little girls, who were dressed modestly, was 'arousing'. So, the lower forearms of a little girl are arousing to this 'normal' male. Look who's calling himself normal! The citation of one or more incidents of kanaut in the talmud, doesn't excuse the behavior of the current crop of zealots. Indeed, their actions bespeak self-interest and the desire to control. They are bullies who attemptto rationalize their behavior with some religious verbiage. If they were truly driven by religion, they would recognize the evil in terrorizing innocent children, and the desecration of the divine name involved.

    It would help if people would identify the hooligans. I note, for example, that a bunch of the 'Hareidim' that confronted the TV crew wore knitted white kippot under their fedoras. I assume that this is part of the uniform of a certain group (or groups). If so, then those groups and their businesses/institutions should be boycotted unless and until the group leaders issue a public condemnation of the acts of those adherents.

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  75. Y. Aharon is closer than most others to understanding what I was saying, but still not quite there!

    My main point was that the bigger problem in Bet Shemesh is not the few acts of hooliganism or the silence around it - but rather the more widespread attitude to non-charedim.

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  76. but rather the more widespread attitude to non-charedim

    Since all your examples of mainstream RBS Charedim "imposing" on non-Charedim are simply not examples of imposing (with the possible exception of signing petitions against people wearing non-tzniyus clothes, which, as I said, is only a question of degree versus signing a petition against a gentleman's club, and is fully permitted under normative freedom of speech laws) then mainstream Charedim are a problem only if you are a Bolshevik, and they are a "bigger problem" than spitters if you are a blind Bolshevik bigot.

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  77. I guess we are talking a different language.

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  78. Ameteur said...
    > So according to you, Jews believe in Jesus.

    Um, yes? Being Jewish and believing in Jesus are not mutually exclusive. Being an Orthodox Jew and believing in Jesus are mutually exclusive, but that’s something else entirely. That’s because one of the defining characteristics of being Orthodox is the lack of belief in any deity other than Hashem. Being non-violent is not a defining characteristic of Charedism, nor is perfect adherence to mitzvos, so one can be violent and violate mitzvos concerning embarrassing others and damaging others’ property and still be Charedi, even if those things are not typical of the Chareidi community at large.

    Adam said...
    > Since the definition of Charedi is one who trembles at the thought of sinning, and goes to extreme lengths to avoid any transgression; anyone who does these things is NOT Charedi, nor is he a religious Jew of any kind.

    In an ideal world, perhaps. In the real world, your definition rules out pretty much everyone. “Chareidi” is a social identity at least as much as religious one. Someone is Chareidi if he is a member of the Chareidi community, holds of Chareidi rabbonim and concepts such as daas torah, etc. One doesn’t have to be a saint to qualify.

    > It doesn't matter how they dress, where they live, what hechshers they don't eat, etc; once somebody publicly, intentionally, and proudly violates halacha - and does not regret his act - he is no longer practicing Judaism.

    They don’t see themselves as violating halchah. They see themselves as the defenders of halachah against hedonistic moderenes. Thus, even if in fact they are violating halacha, they are doing so unintentionally, out of their mistaken belief that what they are doing is virtuous.

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  79. You have it backwards. The moderate Chareidim are the biggest impediment to bringing blessing into the city. Tzniyus is the most important thing especially in the land of Israel, so that we don’t get thrown out of here like the 7 licentious nations who used to be here. “[G-d] should not see Ervas Davar in you and abandon you [to your enemies].” On the day that Tzniyus is observed throughout the land all the Arab leaders and masses will come and beg forgiveness for all the evil they’ve done all these years, and they will let us live in peace. RJBS’s idea to educate the ignorant about Tzniyus won’t work, we need demonstrations. This succeeded in Meah Shearim where it’s a pleasure to walk the streets and now that there’s no room there it could work here too if only the moderate ‘Chareidim’ would be more supportive. Who needs their worthless signatures against Pritzus, L’maan Achai, TOV and Achdus that they write from their ivory studies. Hit the streets! Why are so few of them at our rallies in front of Orot? Don’t they begin to realize that a larger presence would make a real dent, and bring blessing to the city? Even the Tziyoiny Rabbi Levine, father in law of the head Tziyoiny Rabbi Eliashev, once passed by a demonstration against Shabbos desecration and joined in. When asked that this wasn’t his way he said, but if someone screams “fire” you have to scream with him.

    The Munkatcher Rebbeh the Minchas Eluzer said that today the destroyers of the Bais Hamikdash are the ‘BAR KAMTZA’: KA*mmunisten , M*izrachisten, TZ*iyoinisten and A*gudisten. This is one big continuum of being passive or worse when the city is threatened by Pritzus and other issues that they just sleep through. None of the Bar Kamtzah receives meaningful protests from any one of them to their right. At least the Frayeh and the Mizrachisten are desensitized Tinokos Shenishbu who don’t know better. But the moderate ‘Chareidim’, (oich mir Chareidim, LOL), they’re the real Machrivei Kartah.

    You think you are even handed. Is there any genuine Chareidi in his right mind who should join you and not us? Even remaining neutral is an outrage—but he should even go with you to the rallies?!?

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  80. Note to everyone else: Now do you believe me that this is not just a problem of the Sikarim?

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  81. Alas, I'm not sure of"Truth, then peace" is serious or parody.

    Lawrence Kaplan

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  82. Believed you to begin with. Although I wonder if "truth, then peace said..." may just be pulling everyone's leg. One would like to think so. But that might be wishful thinking, huh?

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  83. By now, I suppose you've seen Rabbi Shafran's piece on the violence in Beit Shemesh?

    It's good, but it misses the key idea that you mentioned: "What have the vast majority of haredim -- those who are very against the actions of the sikrikim -- done to help solve the problem?

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  84. My earlier comment stands corrected. Apparently, the Agudah did issue a statement today. Good for them.

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  85. If Chareidi society inevitably produces Sikrikim, then it's sort of pointless to distinguish between the two, isn't it?

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  86. @ truth, then peace

    The Jews of Bayit Sheni had it all. Torah, Mitzvos, Tzniyos, Yiraas Shamayim but unfortunately they were missing one key important ingredient, as everyone knows, and that was Ahavas Yisrael!

    Sounds like they were Charedim.

    Look back at the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza. Remember how the Gedollim of that generation were criticized because they sat quietly and didnt protest the Sinas Chinam. The Gedollim of that generation made mistakes but the Rabbonim of our generation are clearly on a much higher level.

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  87. "If Chareidi society inevitably produces Sikrikim, then it's sort of pointless to distinguish between the two, isn't it?"

    If American society inevitably produces the UniBomber or Columbine, or Bloods and Crypts, or Islamic preachers moving to Yemen, than does that mean that these are America's fault? That these people are proof of everything that is wrong with America?

    As bad as the Sikrikim are, and they are terrible, they have not murdered anyone. The Chilonim however, have produced Mafias and Thugs and they kill people. Yet nobody calls the Chiloni parties to denounce them.

    The Sikirikim are Thugs and a Mafia pure and simple. They need to be treated as such, and dealt with as such. Trying to change Charedi culture will not remove the existance of Gangs and Thugs.

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  88. "Look folks - absolutely no one outside of the Haredi fold is impressed by characterizations of Sikirim as "non-Haredi", and there are good reasons for this. "

    An absolute lie. I'm not charedi, I avoid Charedim like the plague, and I strongly think that they are a separate religion from Judaism. (In general, I don't trust their kashrut) Yet I can recognize that Sikrikim are not Charedim.

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  89. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  90. do you really think that the Sikrikim would stop if Charedim condemned them?

    Of course not.

    But (a) that's not the point.

    And (b) while you can't stop the Sikrikim that way, you COULD stop other types of offensive behavior that goes on in RBS.

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  91. "Note to everyone else: Now do you believe me that this is not just a problem of the Sikarim?"

    No.

    To Truth then peace... What are you doing on the internet? Are you TRYING to get thrown out of Israel? There is no end of pritzus here, begone and save yourself.

    By your statements and support of the Sikrikim, I imagine that is the case, and you want to be kicked out of the land, so that you may show that "zionims" didn't work. However, Gd can not be bribed and is not tricked.

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  92. "But (a) that's not the point."

    Why is stopping them not the point? That should be the first and only point!

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  93. Those who engage in violent means to accomplish this are a fringe minority that most charedim detest - but there is a general charedi effort to accomplish this via non-violent means.

    I just re-read RNS's post and indeed he does cover much of the ground being hashed out here in the comments. The above quote articulates quite well the point that I was struggling to convey.

    Nonetheless, I cannot agree entirely with RNS's main point of the article. Yes, the mainstream Haredi community "supports milder attempts to impose Haredi mores on the rest of the city" and society at large, where they can do so. But of course! To a certain extent, this is true of all groups that strongly believe in anything. You think Meretz, for example, is not engaged in this game? I'd say that this is the right of Haredim and everyone, as long as they do so peacefully and otherwise play by the rules.

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  94. I am completely baffled why these hooligans have not been brought to justice by the Israeli police.

    They don't have administrative detention in Beit Shemesh. Rather, they can only arrest an individual for an overt criminal act and have strong evidence for it. Screaming "zonah" and "shisksa" at children, as much as we detest it, is not a criminal act (AFAIK).

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  95. Btw,
    Why are there no complaints about people in mea sharim who threw stones or spit at or harassed the women wearing burkas? I can't remember the exact story, but I saw it last week, while looking something up.

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  96. But of course! To a certain extent, this is true of all groups that strongly believe in anything.


    Aaah, finally sanity!

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  97. "if American society inevitably produces the UniBomber or Columbine, or Bloods and Crypts, or Islamic preachers moving to Yemen, than does that mean that these are America's fault?"

    I didn't say anything about fault. My point is that if Chareidi society produces these people, then it's disingenuous to pretend that they have nothing to do with Chareidim. No-one pretends that the Unabomber (or these other examples) wasn't American.

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  98. I'd say that this is the right of Haredim and everyone, as long as they do so peacefully and otherwise play by the rules.

    Exactly. Upon which basis not only do I not completely agree with this post, I utterly reject it as a Bolshevik propaganda piece worthy of Pravda. It feeds into the past 36 hours of countrywide harrassment of innocent Charedim, who have been spat upon, slapped, (a four year old girl was intimidated), and threatened with mass killings. (All of which have yet to be condemned here.)

    But apparently they are not the main problem. By Rabbi Slifkin's logic, the bigger problem is Rabbi Slifkin.

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  99. This post has made me think a bit more about what "Haredi" means, and I realized that although I have lived in Haredi society for many years, at no point have I ever signed up as a Haredi in any way, and in fact the categorization seems totally meaningless to me. There is absolutely no halachic or secular legal consequence whether someone "is a Haredi" or not. It gives him/her no privileges or obligations beyond those which he/she has anyway as a human being and as a Jew. The fact that someone "is a Haredi" does not make them any more or less responsible for the actions of other "Haredim" except to the extent that all Jews are responsible for each other.

    In all seriousness, does the fact that I bought a black hat in a store and like wearing it for whatever reason (including the fact that I do agree with some percentage of Haredi ideas) make me somehow automatically connected with everyone who wears a black hat? (BTW, the Meah Shearimniks have their own very distinctive kind of hat which no one would mistake for mine.)

    Why does everyone on both sides of this debate seem to accept this kind of nonsense?

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  100. Since no one responded to what I wrote yesterday:


    Despite much vitriol on both sides against the other, no mainstream Rabbonim on either side consider the other to be non-Orthodox in general. This is especially true from the point of view of the MO world, whose Rabbonim have respect for the Haredi poskim and Roshei Yeshivos.


    I'll say it again a bit stronger.

    No Rabbanut Rav in Israel today would say in public or in private, "I don't care at all about the svaros of the Chazon Ish; he was just some crazy right-wing fanatic."

    No MO or DL Rosh Yeshiva would dismiss the ideas of Rav Shmuel Rozovsky or Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz by saying, "Who cares what those Haredim have to say?"

    Can anyone imagine any serious MO or DL Jew saying that he doesn't care what it says in the Mishneh Berurah because the Chafetz Chaim was "just some Haredi nut"? In many ways, the Chafetz Chaim's positions on things were even more extreme than those of today's Haredi Rabbonim, yet no one treats him as being out of the picture of Judaism.

    My point is not that the Haredim are right or wrong, it is that we are all in this together, like it or not, and to pretend, as this post does, that it is only "Haredim" who are responsible for the actions of the fringe nutcases is simply wrong.

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  101. Yes Natan, the problem is far beyond the sikrikim.

    Popular Anglo rabbonim such as Rabbis Kornfeld, Goldstein, Malinowitz, etc. are silent about the violence.

    They have a strong voice however when it comes to urging people not to support Lema'an Achai and to support their organization, the Kupa Shel Tzedaka.

    Lema'an Achai is a great asset to our community. They are under the rabbinic leadership of Rav Haber, Rav Soloveichik, The Piecasna Rebbe and other great rabbonim.

    It confounds me how these rabbis could have any issue with them.

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  102. that it is only "Haredim" who are responsible for the actions of the fringe nutcases is simply wrong

    You are suggesting that it is also the responsibility of all MO & DL Jews because all orthodox Jews share common ground in respecting Haredi poskim?

    Maybe. It doesn't necessarily follow - but I don't know of any MO or DL individuals or leaders that refrain from making a protest against the Sicarii, so what exactly do you want from this? Maybe I am just not at all understanding your point?

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  103. " No-one pretends that the Unabomber (or these other examples) wasn't American."

    This is not very honest.
    If anybody said that "Americans live in the woods and mail bombs to people", or "Americans like to do drive by shootings" Folks would be up in arms saying that such statements are hateful nonsense.

    "I'll say it again a bit stronger."

    You can say it stronger, but you would be mistaken.

    I have heard plenty of people dismiss statements as "crazy Haredi chumrot." and just dissmiss them.

    However you are likely correct, that people should be saying it more strongly. Maybe then, unification with all Jews, will actually become possible.

    That is, one people are open and public about their feelings that Charedism is not Judaism, then the Reform, Conservative, and everyone else can get together, and figure out how to be united.

    As I said earlier. If someone tells me that a place is kosher by the Bdatz, but not by the Rabanut, I would not eat there. I would be too afraid that they pay someone to not check and allow them to take shortcuts.

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  104. Avi, thank you for your explanation of Sikirim. Frankly, when I saw your first post, I thought you were giving them this name due to their behavior, it did not occur to me for a minute that someone would choose to name themselves after a faction that Chazal point to as a direct cause of the Churban.

    I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around that.

    But Yidiot Acharonot this morning used that title in the headlines instead of Chareidim, so ... progress of sorts, I suppose.

    R' Slifkin, why is there no reference to Halacha in any of the discourse? Are not the girls in the Orot school dressed according to Halacha? Shouldn't that count for something?

    Whether or not "Truth before peace" is real or a parody of similar things said elsewhere, since when does "Ervas Davar" refer to things allowed by the Shulchan Aruch?!

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  105. Ameteur "If American society inevitably produces the UniBomber or Columbine, or Bloods and Crypts, or Islamic preachers moving to Yemen, than does that mean that these are America's fault? That these people are proof of everything that is wrong with America?"

    These are all signs of decay and problems in American society which do need to be tackled, and what's more, this is generally recognized, so I don't really know what you mean.

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  106. Yitz Waxman "Screaming "zonah" and "shisksa" at children, as much as we detest it, is not a criminal act (AFAIK). "

    In Israel there's no such thing as public disturbance, harassment, loitering, intimidation, etc.? If they did that in New York there'd be a hundred reasons they could arrest them.

    I cannot believe that adult men can't be arrested in Israel for hanging out near a girl's elementary school and yelling "harlot" at 8 year old girls.

    It reminds me of how people point out that without edus and hasraah you can't do anything according to the Torah. Puhleez.

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  107. I think many are missing the basic point. The problem is not the spitting, name calling or harassment, those are symptons of the problem, and like, with any disease, they symptoms have a tendency to get worse if the problem isn't treated.

    The problem is the hubris of the Charedi population which declares itself the sole purveyor of Torah, and disrespects all other forms, and demands of others that they keep to those standards, while dismissing out of hand, the standards of others.

    The Charedim are not living in a separate city or world where they can make up all the rules. They can keep their chumrot for themselves, but cannot force it upon others except perhaps inside their own homes/shuls/schools. They cannot demand it in public places even if a significant proportion of the population is Charedi, whether one is referring to a store, a street, a bus or anything else in the public domain.

    Until Charedim except there way isn't everyone's way and that they must respect,at least with actions, others view, the symptoms will only worsen.

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  108. Rachel Ann - that was an excellent comment. The whole POINT of Haredism is non-tolerance. The Aggudah statement issued today said "many charedi Jews, men and women alike, see a need to take special steps - in their own lives and without seeking to coerce others" well maybe that is true in USA but here in Israel coercion is a given - when signs are put up all around RBS telling women they have to dress modestly that is not "in their own lives" - that is coercion!! I am fed up of everyone saying it is a small group of lunatics causing the problem - as Rabbi Slifkin explains it is much wider that that.
    As for the comment (can't remember who posted it) that this is all "an anti-religious witch-hunt" - are you really not aware that the whole protest was initiated by the Dati-Leumi community? or maybe we don't count as religious........

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  109. "S. said...
    Yitz Waxman "Screaming "zonah" and "shisksa" at children, as much as we detest it, is not a criminal act (AFAIK). "

    In Israel there's no such thing as public disturbance, harassment, loitering, intimidation, etc.? If they did that in New York there'd be a hundred reasons they could arrest them.

    I cannot believe that adult men can't be arrested in Israel for hanging out near a girl's elementary school and yelling "harlot" at 8 year old girls.

    It reminds me of how people point out that without edus and hasraah you can't do anything according to the Torah. Puhleez.

    "


    This is exactly why I think it's part of a govt sponsored conspiracy that the police haven't cleaned up the streets there. The govt probably instructs the police to let the problem fester because it harms religious zionists (their favorite whipping boy) and because it can be used to defame haredim in the media and gain political points for these politicians by enraging the public.

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  110. further evidence of the petty divisiveness engendered by religious belief

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  111. Ameteur: it may well be that folks would be up in arms if gang members were described solely as Americans, but that's not relevant. To the extent that these gangs wouldn't exist outside of the societal conditions, they do reflect America.

    I don't think Sikrikim could exist outside of Chareidi culture, so the distinction rings false. Certainly most Chareidim aren't Sikrikim, but all Sikrikim are cultural Chareidim.

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  112. The fate of the city will be determined in the next election, two years from now.

    Don't the Charedim nearly have a majority at this point? (and we all know that they vote en masse for the candidate chosen by their Rebbes)

    And if they don't quite have a majority, if they manage to fill some of the new construction in time, and/or move tons of yeshiva students to the city full-time, that they will have a clear majority by the time the election takes place? I don't know the exact numbers, but I've been told by at least one person that this is the case.

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  113. these FEW charedim should be locked up and the key should be thrown away. They need psychiatric help. Hitler and today's neo-nazis gain in stature when pictures of these insane idiots are seen througthout the world. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

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  114. You write: "At every level in charedi society, there is a certain degree of intolerance towards non-charedim, which is never protested by those to their left in charedi society."

    Replace the word "chareidi" with "dati", "chiloni", etc. etc. My point is that today's Israel is bursting with sinat chinam by members of every segment of society. Every segment harbors prejudices. You know, we don't have to fear the Arabs. We are our own worst enemy.

    Must we repeat our history of near destruction time and again?

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  115. its been my opinion for a while that if the eida chareidit (and especially their extreme elements) didn't exist, the roshei yeshivot would have needed to invent them. these people serve as a lightening rod, absorbing all the anger and hatred. meanwhile the "mainstream" chareidi establishment takes over the rabbinate, tries to kill heter michira, the conversion process, does their best to prevent any religious alternative especially groups like tzohar, the list goes on. i think that this is another element on why rabbanim won't life a finger against the eida (besides the normal explanations of "not arguing with anyone to the right of you, fear, hatred of secular press, etc).

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  116. I have heard plenty of people dismiss statements as "crazy Haredi chumrot."


    This is exactly the point. Who are these "people"? Are they Talmidei Chachamim or even minimally competent in learning? The attitude in the "Haredi" world has always been that non-Haredi Orthodox Jews are largely amei-haaretz, and "people" such as you mention do a good job of reinforcing this stereotype. Rabbonim who have more lenient opinions back them up with proofs from the Gemara and Poskim rather than "dismissing" people ad hominem.

    If some big non-Haredi Rabbonim want to come out and say that Rav Elyashiv or Rav Moshe Sternbuch do not represent Judaism and that their opinions are a priori uninteresting, then we will have what to talk about. Until then, it is meaningless to treat "Haredim" as a separate sect. If you (or your Rav) have issues in which you disagree with the Haredi Rabbonim (as I also do), address them in the time-honored method of "milchamtah shel Torah".

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  117. In all your articles I fail to understand the meaning of the term "Gedoilim". Who decides who the "Gedoilim are? The "Katanim"? Is there a special test one must pass to be a "gadol"? Are they elected? If so, who are the electors?

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  118. Police reports as discussed in the Knesset now indicate that the spitting incident did not take place. It was all a libel. But who cares?
    Will any of this on this forum who spoke against the Ultra_Orthodox apologize?
    Of course not.
    Yair Davidiy

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  119. Yair-

    I was spit on- in my face. Its even on video.

    He is a psycho who happens to wear charedi clothing- but worse than he are the thousands who said and did nothing against him and his thugs.

    And those like you who don't believe us.

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