Monday, December 26, 2011

Gedolei Yisroel allow grown men to spit and harrass little girls going to school!

Hadassah Margolis, whose daughter was spat on and verbally abused by haredi extremists in Beit Shemesh just for walking to school in clothing deemed insufficiently “modest,” looked weary yet determined on Sunday.
“We don’t plan on leaving,” she told The Jerusalem Post in her home. “We just wake up every day thinking, what will be next?” Two days have passed since Margolis and her eight-year-old daughter, Na’ama, shared their trauma on national television.
Jerusalem Post
Hadassah Margolis & her daughter Na'ama
Israelis watched Channel 2’s Friday evening news program with astonishment as Na’ama cried and refused to take the short walk to the Orot girls elementary school, fearing more abuse from grown men.

Since that broadcast, “the phone has been ringing off the hook with people offering their support,” Margolis said.
“We are exhausted. I hope this will bring change.”
The young mother said she did not view the whole of the haredi community as villains, but added that the extreme elements who harass her daughter are “evil people.”

“As a citizen of this country, I’m looking at the government with an expectation to stop this evil,” she added. When Na’ama sees haredi men “she still gets hysterical,” the mother said.
Margolis, an Orthodox woman who was born in the US and came to Israel with her family as a young girl, lives on a street heavily populated with Anglo-Israelis who have been bearing the brunt of the simmering confrontation with the adjacent haredi neighborhood over the location of the girl’s school.
Haredi extremists claim the school is provocatively situated in their neighborhood, and draws “immodestly dressed” girls and women to their midst.

Miriam Marcus, a mother of three who lives in the same building as Margolis, emigrated to Beit Shemesh from New York in 2007. She held back tears as she recounted how she was spat upon in 2008 while waiting at a bus stop with her sons.
“My knees and elbows were covered up, but my toes were exposed – I was wearing sandals,” she said. That was enough to prompt a spitting and shouting attack,” she added.
“It was so unbelievable that I could not react immediately,” Marcus added. “I never imagined when I moved here that we’d be fighting other Jews.”
Marcus asked why no haredi leaders have taken a public stance against the extremists.

“I’m actually afraid to cross the street,” she said.
Moshe Friedman, a resident of one of the haredi neighborhoods, told the Post that claims of spitting on children were fabricated, and were part of a homegrown “anti-Semitic” media campaign against his community.
“They can bring Channel 2 here, but it won’t help them,” he said. “There’s no spitting. There is yelling, because they decided to put the school in our neighborhood.”

“We will continue the fight,” he added. “We don’t want immodesty in our area.”
Friedman said there would be no conflict if the school was situated elsewhere.
“We never dictate to them how to live their lives. They shouldn’t tell us how to live either,” he said.
“What would happen if Arabs opened a school in a settlement?”
The tensions in Beit Shemesh had not abated on Sunday, when a vehicle carrying a Channel 2 crew was attacked with stones in a haredi area, smashing its windows.

Shmuel Pappenhum, a former haredi community spokesman, has been working to build a dialogue between the two communities. He blamed recent events
and intense media coverage for setting back progress made in recent months.
“We are in close touch with parents and teachers from the Orot school, and we are trying to calm the girls down. We are explaining that haredim are not opposed to the school. Only a violent minority is behind this,” he said.
“We thought we had reached sanity, but last week it all fell apart,” Pappenhum continued.

Haredi rabbis, “even ultra-conservative ones” from Beit Shemesh and
Jerusalem, had met with national-religious community representatives in the past and reached agreements, Pappenhum added. “Now it will be harder to make progress. We hope sanity will prevail, and that the extremists are restrained.”

Dov Lipman, a moderate haredi political activist, praised Orthodox Anglo-Israelis for “leading this battle.”
Lipman, who heads the Emergency Committee to Save Beit Shemesh, said “It is because of our efforts – and only because of our efforts – that this has become a national story.”

Now read from Haaretz:

Rabbis maintaining 'disturbing silence' amid uproar over gender segregation

Beit Shemesh is a microcosm of the wider ultra-Orthodox community, and of Israel itself; many wonder where the rabbis have gone.

Many wonder about where the rabbis have gone. Can it be that the current media uproar, in which virtually every day Haredi extremism reaches the front pages of the newspapers, hasn't reached the rabbis' attention? Can it be that the norms of the outside, secular political world are completely foreign to them? Are the statements and denunciations uttered by the prime minister kept away from them? Do the rabbis have nothing to say about acts of violence that occur in Beit Shemesh?
The simple answer is that the Haredi rabbis, particularly in the Ashkenazi community, do not feel committed to any agenda or public viewpoint, certainly not anything rooted in media coverage. They do not "respond" and, assuming they are aware of public consternation concerning the Haredim, do not feel obligated to expectations of any sort harbored by secular Israelis, who believe they (the rabbis) should deal with this or that phenomenon.
Not only that, but if Haredi rabbis do have an official position, it is one of complete negation of what they see as a campaign against the Haredi community, as another attempt to uproot religion. The closest thing to a response has been headlines such as one that appeared in Bnei Brak based newspaper "Yated Ne'eman" on Sunday which said, "The tendentious and deceitful incitement continues."
Another key reason is the leadership crisis among Haredi rabbis. The Haredi community is awaiting for comments from Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the Lithuanian Haredi leader, and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader oh Shas, neither of  who have addressed the incidents so far.
None of this, however, is directly relevant to Haredi extremists in Beit Shemesh, who do not oblige dictates given by the mainstream Haredi world. In recent years these elements seem to have spun far from the main Haredi rabbis.
"The main problem concerning Beit Shemesh is our silence, the disturbing silence maintained by religious, Haredi people. We are the first people who really ought to come out and oppose such extremism," stated Rabbi Dr. Dov Halbertal Sunday. Halbertal suggested that if a prominent figure, such as Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, issued a denunciation of violence emanating from the Haredi fringe, it would cause convulsions in the Haredi world, including its extremist fringes.
Yet Elyashiv persists in his silence, as do the main Haredi media outlets. In their eyes, the Haredi community is the subject of a serious blitz, and those from the Haredi camp who are willing to cooperate with the media are playing into the hands of those who wish to uproot the Torah. Any criticism that does exist in newspapers such as "Mishpacha," Hebrew for "family," or "Be Kehila," Hebrew for "in community," is very subtle indeed. 
Even so, the winds of change are blowing. The call for change, for stopping the Haredi gangs, for putting an end to extremism, are coming from the Haredi street. Until last week, these voices were mainly heard in internet forums, where members can comment anonymously, but on Sunday they were clearly visible in the headlines of Haredi websites, such as "Kikar Shabat," Hebrew for "shabbat square," that called on extremists by name, and called to denounce them. One example is journalist Asher Gold, who called on members of the public to join a religious-nationalist protest in Beit Shemesh on Tuesday.
Many are not prepared to put up with the tyranny of Haredi gangs in Beit Shemesh, or incidents such as the recent one where little girls are spat at, and not just because they understand how much damage the extremist minority is doing to the ultra-Orthodox majority.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jews will someday look back on this crew like we look at the corrupt Kohanim of the Batei Migdash and the fanatical sicarim. remember that they brought down the Jewish people. we need to excise these boils. I give to no tzedakah unless i know the executive director by first name or my kids attend the school. period. no more Israeli shnorrinkeit.