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September 27, 2016 / 24 Elul, 5776
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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.

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)

Steve K. Walz

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