web analytics
April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘american zionists’

Haredi and Zionist Beit Shemesh Residents Demanding a Split

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Three days after the municipal elections in which incumbent Shas Mayor Moshe Abutbul defeated Jewish Home candidate Eli Cohen, the protest storm in the city of Beit Shemesh has not subsided. Thousands arrived at City Hall Thursday night to protest what they have no doubt was a fraudulent election.

It’s true that police discovered in one Haredi-owned apartment in the city hundreds of ID cards belonging to Beit Shemesh residents living abroad – suggesting that some Haredim did embrace the concept of voting early and often. Also, in some voting stations in the city, the voting percentage exceeded 100%, which is an electoral miracle in anyone’s book.

Oh, and according to Channel 10 news, in a few voting booths they ran out of Jewish Home’s Eli Cohen voting tickets, which can really be annoying.

Channel 10 interviewed Beit Shemesh Resident Menashe Elias, who took part in last night’s rally, who said: “We protest because they stole the election. They stole it from us with forgery, with double voting, with forged ID cards. They stole our city.”

That last sentiment, about their city being stolen, has been the broadest common denominator for all the non-Haredi residents of Beit Shemesh. They have all seen, five years ago, how the sweet mannered, inclusive, jovial Shas candidate Moshe Abutbul, sold out their city to the Haredim. In cartoon fashion, Beit Shemesh has since turned from a normal Israeli city where Haredim and their neighbors find ways to get by (as we do in Netanya, my home town), to the center of Haredi intolerance, complete with spitting on little girls, shaming women, segregating the sexes, attacking uniformed IDF soldiers, the works.

Another accusation made by the protesting residents was that the incumbent has imported some 3,000 yeshiva students from Bnei Brak, who voted in Beit Shemesh without establishing residency.

All of the above accusations will surely be investigated by the authorities, but the city of Beit Shemesh would be equally split and politically paralyzed should an investigation discover that, indeed, the non-Haredim have won. At this point the enmity between the two groups – Haredim and the rest of the world – has gotten to the point where governing both groups under the same executive just doesn’t make sense.

According to several media sources, both secular and religious, the one thing protesters in Beit Shemesh seems to agree on is the need to break up the city. It would require a Knesset legislation, but in Israel that process can be amazingly speedy if everybody wants it.

And everybody will lose.

beit shemesh vote

Veteran Haredi journalist Israel Gelis told The Jewish Press that Beit Shemesh, from its inception, has been a traditional Jewish town. Very few in Beit Shemesh are bona fide secular – the town has very little to offer someone who wants to go out and see a movie on Friday night.

Gellis continued on to say that over the past decade, however, two extremist groups have settled in Beit Shemesh: Toldos Aharaon Chassidim, who are, basically, Neturei Karta – and knitted yarmulka American Jews, who are looking to establish a more “progressive” Jewish life in this sleepy city. Those two opposing camps, each in its manner (YY: meaning the American Zionists don’t spit on people or slap women on the street, but the Haredi zealots do), have been weighing down on the system and calling in the media to create a fuss.

Meaning it would probably be simpler to just chase the extremists out to the hills and go back to a life of peace. but that’s not going to happen. Short of that, the city fathers will do well to resist the urges of the extremists and activists, and to find ways to bring back the religious harmony that used to prevail in Beit Shemesh.

There are roughly 85,000 residents in Beit Shemesh, and I suspect most of them have no interest in joining either extremes. But Mayor Abutbul, who has been belittling the complaints of his citizens who voted for the other guy, will do well to work on outreach instead. For one thing – should the city be split, it’s doubtful whether Moshe Abutbul could be re-elected. He’s just not Haredi enough.

Passover, Peace, And Palestine: An Arab-Style Seder In 1920s Long Island

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Passover at Irma Lindheim’s Long Island home in the 1920s was not your standard Jewish holiday experience.

There was plenty of matzah ball soup and brisket, to be sure. But the dining room was occupied by a makeshift tent, the Passover table was replaced by a pile of sheepskin rugs, and the Lindheim children were dressed in Arab garb. For Mrs. Lindheim – the national president of Hadassah, the women’s Zionist organization, from 1926 to 1928 – Passover was an opportunity to make a dramatic statement about what she perceived as the common heritage of Arabs and Jews and her hopes for peace in Palestine.

The path that led to Irma Lindheim’s unique Passover Seders began during a trip to the Holy Land shortly after World War I. A visit to a Bedouin encampment near the Syrian border deeply impressed her. The sheik received her “so courteously,” the wives of his harem were so attractive, his children were so charming, the ample food was “so delicious in taste and aroma,” that Mrs. Lindheim had to wonder, as she put it, “Under what possible circumstances could such people and I possibly be enemies?”

In Mrs. Lindheim’s eyes, the Arabs of Palestine closely resembled the Jews of biblical times – so surely they should all be able to get along. She marveled at the fact that her host “pulled off my boots himself, and laved my feet with cool water, [just] as Abraham had done with the three strangers,” as recounted in Genesis 18:1-4.

“The customs of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were customs of the present-day Bedouin,” she wrote. “When Abraham sat before his tent in the heat of the day…he did no differently than a Bedouin sheikh we encountered, resting before his tent in the Plains of the Huleh.”

As her personal contribution to the cause of Arab-Jewish amity, Mrs. Lindheim decided to radically revise her own Passover Seders. Her children “would wear the robes of the desert Bedouin and would eat their meal in a tent… to commemorate not only the flight of their forebears from slavery to freedom, but also bonds with the Arab people who lived now exactly as their forefathers lived then.”

On their first such Passover, “young Norvin [her eldest son] stood, tall and darkly handsome in his Bedouin robes,” to recite the story of the exodus before a group that included Sir Wyndham Deeds, first secretary of the British government in Mandatory Palestine, and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, the foremost American Jewish leader of that era. Wise was a renowned orator, and “his beautiful great voice boomed out” as the hosts and their guests all joined in reading sections of the Haggadah. Lindheim’s youngest son, Stephen, who was named after Wise, recited the Four Questions.

“To the children, to ourselves, and to our many guests,” she later recalled, “the Seder [was] at once an unforgettable experience in itself and, in its way, a family landmark.”

But Mrs. Lindheim was not content with symbolic gestures such as her unorthodox Passover Seders. She and the Hadassah organization undertook a series of projects in Mandatory Palestine aimed at improving Arab-Jewish ties, including providing free health care to Arab communities, establishing the U.S. Jewish leadership’s only Committee for the Study of Arab-Jewish Relations, and building the first Jewish-Arab playground in Jerusalem.

Generously funded by Mrs. Lindheim’s aunt, Bertha Guggenheimer, the Zion Hill playground opened near the Zion Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City in 1926, complete with supervisors trained by the American Playground Association.

Sadly, it did not last long.

In the late summer of 1929, Arab residents of Hebron and Jerusalem carried out widespread anti-Jewish violence. Since the Zion Hill playground was situated in a predominantly Arab neighborhood, the supervisors, fearing for the children’s safety, quickly shut down the facility. Two months later, when they returned to the site to reopen it, they were horrified to find local Arab children painting slogans such as “Down with the Jews” and “Down with the Balfour Declaration” on the equipment and walls.

Although one of the goals of the playground had been to promote good relations with the local Arab residents, chief supervisor Rachel Schwarz found that “amongst the Arab neighbors are many who took an active part in recent riots and are very active at present in the [anti-Jewish] boycott.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/passover-peace-and-palestine-an-arab-style-seder-in-1920s-long-island/2013/03/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: