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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Beit Shemesh’

6 IDF Soldiers Hurt in Gaza, Missile Fire Blankets Israel

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

IDF soldiers are fighting in Gaza and Israelis are keeping a stiff uppper lip on the home front.

Six IDF soldiers were wounded Tuesday when Hamas terrorists shelled their position in a firefight that took place inside Gaza territory. Two are listed in fair condition, and four others were listed in good condition at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon and Sheba Hospital at Tel Hashomer Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

Iron Dome anti-missile defenses were kept busy throughout the day and into the night as well, with missile fire blanketing the Jewish State.

Color Red rocket alert alarms blared through the coastal city of Ashkelon at 10 pm in a repeat performance of the race for the bomb shelters that had been taking place all night throughout the country.

Within 15 minutes, the alarms had spread to the Shfela region, the port city of Ashdod, where one missile was shot down high above the city by Iron Dome operators.

More Code Red alarms reverberated back to Ashkelon and then headed up the coast to the metro Tel Aviv area, where two M75 missiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome system over the city about three minutes later. One missile was intercepted over the city of Rishon Lezion.

Nine Grad Katyusha missiles were fired in a massive barrage at around 9:30 pm at the Negev city of Be’er Sheva. Four were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, indicating they were headed directly for populated areas.

Less than two hours earlier, Gaza terrorists had fired their longer-range M302 missiles at the Judean hills and Gush Etzion at about 8 pm, along with the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Shemesh. One of the missiles was shot down by the Iron Dome system over a neighborhood in Beit Shemesh. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the attacks, admitting to “two missiles fired towards Jerusalem.”

At about 7 pm, four missiles were launched from Gaza and aimed at the Ashkelon coastal region. All four fell short, however, landing instead within the terrorist-run enclave instead.

It is not known how many Gaza civilians were killed and wounded due to the deadly determination of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists to continue their battle against Israeli civilians.

Throughout the day Tuesday, incessant rocket fire and mortar shell attacks were aimed at the 40-plus communities that line the Gaza border area. Residents of those communities have spent the last several weeks in their shelters most of the time and Tuesday was no exception. On Tuesday night, their sojourn in safe rooms continued.

Monastery near Beit Shemesh Vandalized With Anti-American Epithets

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

A Catholic monastery near Beit Shemesh was vandalized sometime before Tuesday morning with anti-American and anti-Christian epithets, and the tires of four vehicles also were slashed.

“America is Nazi Germany” and “Price Tag — Peace Agreement,” as well as “Jesus is a monkey” and “Mary is a cow,” were spray painted on the walls of the monastery, located in an Arab village near Beit Shemesh.

Jerusalem police are investigating.

Price tag refers to the strategy adopted by extremist settlers and their supporters to exact retribution for settlement freezes and demolitions or Arab attacks on Jews.

Other monasteries in the area have been victims of suspected price tag attacks in the past. 

Will Good Fences Make Good Neighbors in Beit Shemesh?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

The idea of splitting Beit Shemesh into two municipalities is gaining traction.

Richard Peres, the Beit Shemesh city councilor, has been an outspoken advocate for splitting Beit Shemesh, for at least ten years.

When I first heard the idea from Richard, I felt that this otherwise grounded veteran politician, was losing touch with reality.

The idea seemed too far-fetched to have any practical application.

The highly contentious re-call municipal election campaign is now over, and Moshe Abutbul the incumbent mayor, has been re-elected, if by a wafer-thin majority. Furthermore, the mayor now has a workable majority coalition, with 10 of the 19 councilors firmly allied with Abutbul.

Rather than licking their wounds, and taking time off to recuperate from the double-campaigns in October 2013 and March 2014, the Zionist camp, now in opposition, is directing its energies to reviving the dusty plans to split the municipality into two.

The plan’s proponents are claiming that the time has come to formally recognise the “unsuccessful” relationship between the chareidi and Zionist populations. They are calling for a peaceful divorce.

Gideon Saar, the Interior Minister, has been reported to have been reviewing the possibility of splitting Beit Shemesh for several months, along with a parallel proposal from the city of Sefad.

Several MKs are reported to be promoting the concept at the government level, probably including Beit Shemesh MK Rabbi Dov Lipman – who has the ear of his Yesh Atid colleagues, including Yair Lapid.

This week, a petition was posted to split the city, with ‘only’ 1556 votes in favour (as of writing this article):

This Tuesday night, a demonstration was called by activists in Beit Shemesh to promote the partition plan.

The idea will certainly require many details to be worked out, even if it were to be universally accepted in principle. Which it isn’t.

For example, I live in Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph, in the sole area coloured purple on the (inaccurate) election results map below, indicating a mix of Eli Cohen (zionist) and Moshe Abutbul (Chareidi) supporters.

"inaccurate" Beit Shemesh election results map.

“inaccurate” Beit Shemesh election results map.

Would my neighbors and I be in the local equivalent of West Berlin, in the new plan?

Or, as I am National Religious, would I be encouraged to move my house into the Zionist Beit Shemesh?

Of Course I’m Disappointed!

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

In the universal contest between the blues and the reds, one side will invariably win, the other lose.

When the reds win, it’s not easy or comfortable for the blues.

It’s a phenomenon known to us all – being on the losing side.

After the most arduous, contentious, long running and unusual municipal election campaign in Beit Shemesh, the chips fell where they did last night – and the incumbent mayor Moshe Abutbul was re-elected, if by a wafer-thin margin of several hundred votes.

My man, Eli Cohen, called Moshe Abutbul to congratulate him on his victory, and Eli acknowledged his defeat with dignity.

I also congratulate Moshe Abutbul and his many many supporters in Beit Shemesh on their victory.

They worked hard, played hard, and they should enjoy their victory!

I feel like the morning-after-the-night-before – a bit dazed, tired and yes, of course, disappointed.

Someone who experiences defeat without any pain (sadness, dismay, disappointment) is simply not human.

As long as these feelings are temporary and not channeled in a negative way, for example, to feed antipathy against the winning side, pointing fingers at one’s colleagues, etc, these feelings are entirely legitimate and healthy.

A defeat should involve a process of autopsy, analysis, to work out what went wrong, what could or should have been better or different, and hopefully work out an improved game-plan for next time one is involved in a contest or competition.

There’s a balance between picking oneself up, dusting oneself off, determinedly moving on with other day to day challenges – while nevertheless taking the time to do the internal accounting process.

Abutbul Wins in Beit Shemesh Re-Vote

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Moshe Abutbul, the Haredi candidate, beat out Eli Cohen, in the do-over election held on Tuesday.

Abutbul received 19190 votes, while Cohen received 18230, a difference of 960 votes. The difference is similar to the previous contested election, though 7% more people voted this time around.

The courts ordered that elections in Beit Shemesh be held again after the police found organized voter fraud had occurred, in favor of candidate Moshe Abutbul.

In this Beit Shemesh election, 76% of eligible voters voted, compared to 69.32% in 2013.

In the Nazareth re-vote, candidate Ali Salem defeated incumbent Ramez Jaraisi by more than 10,000 votes.

In the previous election, the difference was only 22 votes in Salem’s favor, and Salem was sworn in as mayor. Jaraisi and Salem went to court to disqualify some of each other’s votes, and as a result, the court ordered a re-vote of that entire election too.

In the re-vote in Nazareth, 83.6% of eligible voters voted, compared to 70.27% in 2013.

Americans in Beit Shemesh Present the Better Side of Haredim

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Amid the buzz surrounding issues of religious-secular tension—such as proposed Israeli legislation to mandate Haredi enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces and a recent rally where hundreds of thousands of people protested the bill—Haredi entrepreneurship in the Jewish state doesn’t receive the attention it deserves.

Critics lament the lack of Haredi integration into both the military and the Israeli workforce, but  Beit Shemesh, located 20 miles west of Jerusalem with a population of 100,000 people, is home to innovators like Rabbi Joel Padowitz, whose ventures have a direct relationship with the Haredi community.

Padowitz, 36, is co-creator of what he believes is a “game-changing” product for Israeli tourism and business called the “Israel App.” Originally from San Diego, Padowitz made aliyah in 2009 and lives in Beit Shemesh with his wife and six children. He teaches Mishnah every day at a men’s kollel in Beit Shemesh, is an avid mountain biker, and is the founder of a Manhattan-based investment bank. He has rabbinical ordination and an MBA from Bar-Ilan University, and he now is now pursuing a BA in social science from Harvard University.

The co-founder and manager of the Israel App is equally eclectic 28-year-old Yaakov Lehman, formerly from Tucson, Ariz., who is married with a newborn child. A part-time rabbinic student and part-time social entrepreneur, he has a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara in global studies, an MA from the London School of Economics in economic history, and an MA from the University of Vienna in world history. He came to Israel in 2008.

“The reason I founded the Israel App is because people come to Israel and do not get a legitimate or even meaningful presentation of this incredible country,” Padowitz tells JNS.org. “We cater to the majority of tourists who don’t hire human tour guides. We want to give them a way to appreciate more deeply all that Israel has to offer.”

The Israel App, which currently has about 6,000 users, contains GPS-guided tours for any tourist who needs to find sites or hotels or restaurants, a virtual concierge for making reservations, coupons, and background content like an “Israepedia,” a glossary covering a wide variety of historical information. Tourists can use the app without roaming charges as they travel around the country.

When Padowitz and Lehman initiated their project, they began looking for a programming team. They happened upon NetSource and its subsidiary, Concept Creative Technology, a service provider of software development. “We liked the service, the price, and their work environment,” says Lehman.

NetSource’s 48-year-old CEO, Mazal Shirem, is a divorced mother of three who grew up as an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem, where she lived until the age of 20. After 16 years with Intel and a stint in Munich, Germany, she found a business partner for her new venture whose mission “was to get Orthodox people into the employment market and give them the tools they need to learn the work environment.”

NetSource was launched in 2010 and today employs 200 people—90 percent Haredi women and 5 percent Haredi men—almost all living in Beit Shemesh. According to Shirem, the company operates so that the employees “receive the full respect of their lifestyle, including the on-site kosher kitchen, flexible work hours, and even proper subjects on which they work.”

Tamar, a 26-year-old Haredi mother of a two toddlers, is consulting with Shirem in her office. She started work there a year and a half ago as a secretary and worked her way up to an account manager.

“I really like to work here,” she says. “The girls are very nice and it’s convenient for me to work in this company because I find all the conditions which I need in order for me to go out and do my job in an appropriate environment.”

Beit Shemesh Agency Tackles Sexual Abuse One Case at a Time

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

By Maayan Jaffe

Sexual abuse of minors has for many years been among the most controversial and suppressed issues in the Jewish community. An inaugural conference in Israel next month will, at the very least, contribute to the conversation on that issue.

“The mere fact that we are talking with each other is crucial,” said Prof. Asher Ben-Arieh, director of the Jerusalem-based Haruv Institute, whose stated mission is “to become an international center of excellence contributing to the reduction of child maltreatment.”
The First International Congress for Child Protection Organizations in the Jewish Community takes place from March 3-5 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Sponsored by Haruv and Magen LeYeladim U’Lemishpachot, the conference will draw representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, South Africa, and Israel to talk about how to deal with sexual abuse of minors, particularly in the Orthodox Jewish community. Attendees will strategically review the participating organizations and their programs, and collaboratively generate a code of best practices.

“Ultra-Orthodox communities around the world are similar and share communal characteristics,” Ben-Arieh told JNS.org. “We also learned that… in many cases, perpetrators are ‘shipped’ to different communities instead of being dealt with.”
Magen, a Hebrew word meaning “protector,” is the catalyst for the conference as well as for bringing the topic of sexual abuse of minors to light among Israel’s Orthodox community.

In 2010, Magen was founded by David Morris to serve the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh. Three years later, the three-person operation is becoming well known across the Jewish state, as its efforts have resulted in sweeping change for the 98,000-person community.

Underreporting of sexual abuse is a global problem. According to Israel’s National Council for the Child, only about 1 in 10 cases of abuse reach the authorities. But in Beit Shemesh, it was an epidemic. In 2010, according to Beit Shemesh resident and non-profit consultant Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, Beit Shemesh reporting was only one third of the national average. That equates to one in 30, the lowest rate in Israel.

“We want to think it won’t happen. We want to think it doesn’t happen. But it does,” wrote Jaskoll in an op-ed for the Times of Israel.

Morris came to know this all too well. He told JNS.org that Magen was started after he tried fruitlessly to gain assistance for a boy who was molested at school.

“A mother approached me for help when her son, after refusal to go to school and [demonstrating] peculiar behavior, confessed that his rebbe had touched him [inappropriately] and regularly for months. I turned to a community rabbi who was in a position to protect the family,” Morris said. “But instead of advising them to call the police, which is required by law, he referred them to the Modesty Patrol” in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem, he said.

Morris said it became increasingly clear that for victims of abuse and their families, there was no professional and responsible recourse or assistance within the community. Thus, he opened Magen. Since then, the organization has handled upwards of 250 cases, and reports to Magen are doubling each year. Furthermore, reporting of sexual abuse in Beit Shemesh has increased by more than 50 percent.

Magen works on four fronts. First, it educates. Professional or volunteer representatives are out in the community offering lectures and seminars to help parents and child educators understand the threat of sexual predators and how to protect their children against them.

Second, Magen offers a hotline and informational service, which can be contacted anonymously (Hotline@MagenProtects.org or +972-2-999-9678). Third is case management.

“An allegation or a case of child abuse is a trauma, much like bereavement. People really don’t know what to do,” Morris explained. “So we hand-hold, we support the family through the process.”

Finally, Magen helps with the management of alleged perpetrators in the community. Even if a case goes through the correct legal procedure—to the police, to the courts—and the even if the perpetrator gets sentencing, at some point he will return to Beit Shemesh.

“This is a community issue. What should a community do to safeguard its children?” said Morris.

All four components of Magen’s role are essential and necessary for the successful reduction of sexual abuse of minors in a community, explained Helise Pollack, a therapist in private practice in Beit Shemesh. She has been working with victims of childhood sexual abuse for 26 years.

“It is important for families to receive support and for children [victims] to receive intervention and treatment for dealing with their feelings of humiliation, anger, hurt and pain. If they cannot talk about it and understand it wasn’t their fault, then they carry this pain inside them and at some point it comes through,” Pollack said. She noted that victims who have kept the abuse a secret often become anxious teenagers, use drugs or alcohol, act out violently, or hurt themselves/become suicidal. Many leave religion. Others become perpetrators themselves.

Rabbi Yaakov Haber, rabbi of Kehillat Shivtei Yeshurun in Ramat Beit Shemesh, has been supportive of Magen. He said the organization has given potential perpetrators a fear they did not have before.

“It took away their safe haven,” he told JNS.org, explaining that a perpetrator might now think twice before acting on his inclination for fear of public and legal repercussions.

The rabbi also made clear that he does not think there is more abuse in the haredi community than in any other community, but rather, there are additional complications members of the haredi community consider before reporting such a crime. For one, he said, most Orthodox communities are close-knit, which means everyone knows and/or is related to everyone else.

“Once you run to the police and report this man… all of a sudden his [seven] kids are having difficulty in school, the wife is struggling—it is just a tremendous amount of pain,” said Haber. “This is really the fault of the poor choice of the abuser, but you can understand … how it will affect every single aspect of a very large family—even cousins.”

Additionally, he said there is a perception—especially in Israel, where “everything is so politicized”—that the press will jump on any report of abuse and make it a bigger issue than it might be.

Nonetheless, Haber advocates for turning to the police. So do most parents of victims, when they know what their options are and how cases will be handled. At a recent Magen event titled “Who are the people in our neighborhood,” dramatic presentations of three real Magen cases, written by local parents of children who were sexually abused, were read to the audience by volunteers. One boy was molested by the teenage son of a well-known community rabbi.

“We all assumed the perpetrator was some drifter from outside the community. We never imagined it could be a boy from a successful family within our own community,” said Parent A, who remained anonymous. “This boy was not some kid off the derech [non-religious kid]. His family was the derech we all admired and aspired to achieve.”

Parent A was told not to work through Magen, and not to work with the police by some area rabbis. But he worked with Magen anyway. Shortly thereafter, similar stories began to surface. With people aware and looking for the perpetrator, one afternoon he was caught shortly after he abused another victim.

“The boy was arrested. He has been placed under the supervision of the courts. … My 8-year-old’s cry for help and our full disclosure has led to other boys being saved,” said Parent A.

In another case, two young girls were molested by their 70-year-old grandfather. Parent B filed a report, and the grandfather and the young girls are getting the help they need.

“Sometimes doing the right thing will not make everyone happy,” said Parent B. “But it has to be done.”

“The more we speak about [sexual abuse], the more we write about it, the more we stand against it, the greater chance we have of preventing it,” Jaskoll said.

Maayan Jaffe is a freelance writer in Overland Park, Kan.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/beit-shemesh-agency-tackles-sexual-abuse-one-case-at-a-time/2014/02/18/

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