web analytics
October 30, 2014 / 6 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
In Print
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Beit Shemesh Becomes Focus Of Growing Outrage Over Violent Religious Extremism

Beit Shemesh City Council Member Rabbi Dov Lipman (far left) and Shas MK Rabbi Chaim Amsalem (far right) light Chanukah candles at the home of the Margolis family on Monday evening. The spitting attack on 8-year-old Na’ama Margolis by a haredi extremist sparked outrage across Israel.

Beit Shemesh City Council Member Rabbi Dov Lipman (far left) and Shas MK Rabbi Chaim Amsalem (far right) light Chanukah candles at the home of the Margolis family on Monday evening. The spitting attack on 8-year-old Na’ama Margolis by a haredi extremist sparked outrage across Israel.

JERUSALEM – Several thousand Israelis, from across the country’s religious and political spectrums, rallied in Beit Shemesh Tuesday evening against the growing number of attacks on local women and children by a group of radical haredim affiliated with the Sikrikim, a violent offshoot of Jerusalem’s Neturei Karta faction.

“Free Israel from religious coercion,” read one sign at the rally. “Stop Israel from becoming Iran,” read another.

The protesters came together at the urging of public officials – among them President Shimon Peres – and religious leaders including Rabbi Dov Lipman, a haredi member of the Beit Shemesh City Council, and Shas MK Rabbi Chaim Amsalem.

The incident that galvanized much of the country and concentrated its focus on Beit Shemesh occurred last week when 8-year-old Na’ama Margolis, the daughter of Orthodox American immigrants, was spat on by a member of the Sikrikim who claimed the girl was not dressed “modestly enough” as she walked to Orot Banot, a nearby Religious Zionist school.

Though police arrested Na’ama’s attacker, a Jerusalem judge released him less than 12 hours later. A crew from Israel’s Channel 2 TV News, which arrived in Beit Shemesh to film local reaction to the incident, was subsequently attacked by the Sikrikim.

After the Margolis story aired over the weekend, the dispute in Beit Shemesh became national news and the violence ratcheted up a notch.

On Sunday, haredi rioters surrounded and threw stones at city workers removing signs calling for the separation of the sexes on city streets. When haredi activists put up new signs to replace them, the police who returned to remove them Monday encountered rioting by about 300 haredi men who threw stones at police and burned trash cans.

Meir Dovid Eisenbach (center) was arrested Saturday night for the spitting attack on Na’ama Margolis. He was released on bail.

Beit Shemesh, with its mixed religious and non-religious population and its mushrooming ultra-Orthodox satellite, Ramat Beit Shemesh, is home to more than 80,000 residents, including hundreds of new immigrant families from North America and the UK. During the past five years several dozen Neturei Karta-affiliated families, who could no longer afford Jerusalem’s soaring real estate prices, moved into a new Beit Shemesh housing complex, adjacent to the neighborhood populated by Orthodox American and British immigrants.

Upon their arrival, the radicals attempted to intimidate both religious and non-religious residents by attempting to impose a strict “dress code” in and around their enclave. In recent months, members of the radical faction have become increasingly violent, hurling rocks at young girls who attend Orot Banot, calling them “sluts” and “shiksas.”

The group also began posting signs on public streets against men and women congregating within their enclave.

The mayor of Beit Shemesh, Moshe Abutbol, who was elected on a (haredi) Shas Party platform and who had been widely criticized by residents for caving into the demands of the radicals, abruptly changed course in the wake of the attack on Na’ama Margolis.

“There is no reason on earth for a person to raise a hand – let alone on helpless girls,” Abutbol said on Tuesday. Referring to other recent acts of violence perpetrated by local ultra-Orthodox men, the mayor said “there is no pardon for those who behave provocatively. Rioters should be treated with a firm hand.”

The attack on Margolis also prompted Rabbis Lipman and Amsalem to take action. Rabbi Lipman, who has semicha from Baltimore’s Ner Israel yeshiva and a master’s in education from Johns Hopkins University, made aliyah to Beit Shemesh with his wife and four children in 2004.

Rabbi Amsalem, who has been severely critical of Shas leader Eli Yishai, formed his own political faction, Am Shalem, earlier this year and recruited Rabbi Lipman to support his social activist agenda.

Beit Shemesh City Council Member Rabbi Dov Lipman (far left) and Shas MK Rabbi Chaim Amsalem (far right) light Chanukah candles at the home of the Margolis family on Monday evening. The spitting attack on 8-year-old Na’ama Margolis by a haredi extremist sparked outrage across Israel.

Rabbi Lipman told The Jewish Press he “got involved with local politics and this demonstration because I realized it was the right thing to do. However, I never imagined when I made aliyah in 2004 that this would be my calling. I am a haredi-American who is concerned about the future of Eretz Yisrael. We are against anyone who tries to force their way of life on everyone else. Beit Shemesh is not a haredi city. We, religious and non-religious citizens alike, are demonstrating for unity, not division. We are not here to drive anyone out of their homes. We want people to respect each other.”

Rabbi Lipman and a number of religious members of Knesset implored the state’s chief rabbis and the haredi rabbinical establishment to issue declarations against the violence in Beit Shemesh and the recent hadarat nashim (women’s purity) incidents in the public sector.

Na’ama Margolis’s mother, Hadassah, told The Jerusalem Post her family doesn’t “plan on leaving. We just wake up every day thinking, what will be next?” She 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.”

Miriam Marcus, a mother of three and a neighbor of the Margolises, made aliyah to Beit Shemesh from New York in 2007. She tearfully told The Jerusalem Post that she, too, was spat on in 2008 while she stood 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. “I never imagined when I moved here that we’d be fighting other Jews.”

Though Anglo Beit Shemesh residents have come under attack from Beit Shemesh radicals, Rabbi Lipman said the English-speaking community “isn’t going anywhere.”

“We’re here to stay,” he declared, “because everyone knows Beit Shemesh is not only a great place in which to live, it also boasts one of the country’s best educational systems for our children.”

(Supplemental reporting by JTA)

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “Beit Shemesh Becomes Focus Of Growing Outrage Over Violent Religious Extremism”

  1. 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

  2. Gideon Yavin says:

    True to political point scoring ethics, Lipman, under the leadership of Amsalem has poured fuel on the fire, ensuring that as many people get hurt and traumatised as possible in order to score political points.

    As a politically unaffiliated member of the Chareidi community, I have written the following blog post to try shed some light on the matter. http://cafe.themarker.com/post/2483456/

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Abbas and the Temple Mount: "It's mine, all mine. No Jews allowed.
Abbas Declares Closure of Al Aqsa Mosque a ‘Declaration of War’
More Articles from Steve K. Walz
: Israeli soldiers leave Gaza late Monday. A three-day cease-fire brokered by Egypt put an end, at least temporarily, to the fighting. See story, above.

As of Tuesday, all IDF forces operating in Gaza withdrew and redeployed to holding positions around Gaza.

Walz-080114-Map

The operation against the tunnels is a first and necessary step in the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip.

The sophisticated cement tunnels, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars, were reportedly built with Qatari government funds.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the nation on Tuesday afternoon that if the rocket fire did not stop by Tuesday evening, he would order “an even harsher” military response.

“They were abducted and murdered in cold blood by human animals,” Netanyahu said shortly after the bodies were found.

Awad had been released as part of the Gilad Shalit kidnapping deal. Mizrachi’s widow, Hadas, told Israeli reporters that she had opposed the release of murderers as part of any kidnapping deal, and that Awad “deserved the death penalty so he wouldn’t kill again.”

If the abductors’ goal was to force Israeli authorities to release long-serving Palestinian prisoners, the effort backfired as Israeli forces are quickly rolling up what was left of Hamas in the West Bank and are reportedly contemplating the overthrow of the Hamas leadership in Gaza should harm come to the three teenagers.

Netanyahu brushed aside Lapid’s political threats, saying that he was either too politically inexperienced or unaware of the true nature of the peace negotiations with Abbas.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/beit-shemesh-becomes-focus-of-growing-outrage-over-violent-religious-extremism/2011/12/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: