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November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
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Mother and Fighter for Religious Tolerance Quits Beit Shemesh

The Los Angeles-born woman, whose daughter was spat on by extreme Haredim in Beit Shemesh, has given up her fight for religious tolerance and leaves the city , but she blames modern orthodox Jews.
Hadassa Margolese walking her daughter Naama to school in Beit Shemesh a few days after Naama was harassed by Haredi Orthodox men in December 1911

Hadassa Margolese walking her daughter Naama to school in Beit Shemesh a few days after Naama was harassed by Haredi Orthodox men in December 1911
Photo Credit: Flash 90

Margolese’s departure comes as tensions between the modern Orthodox and Haredi residents in Beit Shemesh continues to flare.

Last month, a group of Haredim smashed the windows of a bus after a women refused to give up her seat and sit in the back. This week, police arrested 14 Haredi rioters who blocked a major street and set trash bins on fire to protest construction at a Beit Shemesh site that once may have been a burial ground.

Such clashes are not the cause of Margolese’s departure, but they have led other families to ditch Beit Shemesh in recent years, according to City Councilman Shalom Lerner.

“I’m sorry she’s leaving, but it’s her right if she feels better elsewhere,” Lerner said. “Hadassa isn’t the first one to leave and is not the only one thinking about leaving. The past five years haven’t been good.”

Though a number of initiatives aimed at promoting coexistence in Beit Shemesh were launched in the wake of the incident with Margolese’s daughter, the city is still wrestling with its identity. An acrimonious mayoral campaign is underway, pitting the Haredi incumbent against a modern Orthodox opponent.

Activists say the result will determine the city’s future.

This article was written by Ben Sales for the JTA.

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7 Responses to “Mother and Fighter for Religious Tolerance Quits Beit Shemesh”

  1. Alan Kardon says:

    To the men who spat on this child you should start saying a prayer that you did not do it to any of my family. There is no excuse for this behavior. Sorry that this family had no one to stand up for them. Wishing Hadassa Margolese and her daughter happiness and peace in their new home.

  2. Miriam Goodman says:

    You don't bring about change [as she writes] by airing all the complaints in a secular newspaper..You bring about change by writing an articles in religious Jewish newspapers….Makar Rishon, Hamodia, Mishpachat etc… You form committee with balanot and together you bring about change. How many secular Kallot did this article scare away.

  3. Hadassa is a gem. Never give up. These so called Chareim, are just as bad as any religious fanatic around the world who believe in "my way or the highway".
    This is not the Tora way and not "veahavta lereacha kamocha".

  4. Linda Green says:

    Fanaticism on any level destroys justice. Activists need to speak gently and carry a big stick.

  5. Gideon Yavin says:

    NOBODY EVER WINS A WAR. Sometimes one side looses less then the other side and is erroniously named the victor. Either way it is the folly of the Roman Exile Mindset. Here she is the victem of her own petard. Like Dov Lipman and Moshe Amsalem she has still a lot of suffering coming herway for the enormous damage that they caused and are causing the Torah Observant community.

  6. Sara Conway says:

    I believe all these publicize Anti-Chareidi articles are a concerted attempt for Modern Orthodox to improve their political power in the upcoming elections. I believe people are purposely provoking negative responses.

  7. Forgive your enemy for your own good. Pray for them.

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