These people are so isolated from the rest of the world that they have no clue about sharing it with others. They see the world only through their own eyes. If they are going to venture out into the world, they are going to try and impose their ways on it so that their sensibilities will not be assaulted.
Modesty is a very important trait of the Jewish people. We would all do well to be modest in all our ways, including the way we dress. But that does not mean we impose our desire for modesty on others. Certainly not through intimidation. That is not the way of a Jew. It is the way of the uncivilized. That is what these people have missed out on by being so isolated. Treating others with dignity. The way of Meah Shearim is the way of the Mafia. Not civilization.
We all live in a world with many different people, cultures, and values. Civilization teaches us to get along with each other. Even when we don’t agree. Even if immodesty dressed. You do not tell people to cover up in public when their manner of dress is modest by most societal standards. It is insulting and counter-productive. And it makes an enemy of a fellow Jew.
Last year there was a counter demonstration by women who were constantly being verbally assaulted by people like this in the streets of Jerusalem. After one of them finally got fed up with it and organized a protest. Women who sympathized with her joined her in dressing provocatively in the most immodest of ways and paraded themselves through the streets of Jerusalem. That too isn’t right. But, I can’t say that I blame them. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen next in Machane Yehuda.
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About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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