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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘haredim’

Hundreds of WOW Pray Peacefully

Monday, November 4th, 2013

In a display of the changes the group has experienced this year, Women of the Wall held a peaceful prayer service under police protection at the Western Wall to mark the group’s 25th anniversary.

Absent from Monday’s service, which the group said drew at least 800 worshipers, were large crowds of Orthodox girls who had packed the women’s section in previous months.

For the first time in recent memory, Women of the Wall occupied the majority of the section, with a crowd of male supporters stretching back into the plaza.

The group has met for a women’s prayer service at the wall at the beginning of each Jewish month for the past quarter-century, but has seen rapid change in its status during the past six months.

Until April, women in the group who donned prayer shawls or sang too loudly often would be detained by police. But that month, a Jerusalem district court judge ruled that the group’s practices did not violate any of the wall’s regulations, and since then the police are protecting the women rather than arresting them.

“We’ve come a long way, baby,” Women of the Wall Chairwoman Anat Hoffman told JTA during the service. “It shouldn’t have taken 25 years. It should have taken two weeks. But we’re now where we should be.”

Several dozen Haredi men came to protest on Monday, but aside from a few token disturbances, the service continued uninterrupted.

The past half-year has also seen a compromise solution from Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky. An outline Sharansky released in April called for a significant expansion of an area to the south of the plaza called Robinson’s Arch that is now used for non-Orthodox prayer.

After backing away from the plan, Women of the Wall endorsed it last month, agreeing to move to the new section should a list of conditions be met.

Brandishing the Western Wall regulation that forbids the group from bringing a Torah scroll to its services, Hoffman told JTA that Women of the Wall has yet to reach all its goals. She said, though, that given the relative calm at the Wall, the group will now be turning its attention to negotiations with the government about the Robinson’s Arch plan.

“We’re not scared of jail and arrests — we’re scared of negotiations,” Hoffman joked. “Can we get the maximum? We won’t be suckers.”

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.

200 WOW Drowned Out by 10,000 Seminary Girls

Friday, October 4th, 2013

The first day of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan (which is, really, the last day of Tishrei) was yet another eventful installment in the lengthy and often repetitive saga featuring:

The Kotel (a supporting wall for the King Herod-renovated temple)

The Women of the Wall (a group of largely Reform and Conservative women who have been attempting to conduct their distinctly unorthodox services at the site practically since the crusades)

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the Kotel Rabbi, who, after having fueled the WOW campaign and giving it life for years has finally decided to leave them alone—about a decade too late

And 10,000 lovely, cheerful, sweet seminary girls, who told everyone they were there to pray for the recovery and well being of the ailing mega-scholar Rav Ovadia Yosef.

Look at the funny ladies with talitot and teffilin…. Photo by: Miriam Alster

“Look at the funny ladies with tallitot and teffilin…” Are the onlookers amused, angry, or both? Photo by: Miriam Alster

According to Haredi reports, the WOW just disappeared in the enormous crowd of youthful young ladies. Talk about integration!

According to Israel Radio, things had gone a little out of hand near the end, and the WOW had to sneak out of there through a side exit, as Haredi men were cursing them out and one man was arrested on suspicion of spitting and throwing stuff at them.

Religion brings out the best in people.

The email from the WOW read: “Nearly 200 Women of the Wall prayed this morning in the women’s section of the Kotel—out loud and as a group, with tallitot (prayer shawls) and tefillin (phylacteries). The multi-denominational prayer group prayed without police enclosures and restrictions, for the first time since April 2013.”

OK, very positive, so far. Not for long, though:

“This great achievement was tainted by the incited, abusive behavior of some of the women and girls who came to pray at the Kotel this morning,” the email continues. “Of thousands who came to pray for the health of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, there was a large group of women and girls who surrounded Women of the Wall, cursing, spitting and yelling throughout the prayer.”

Also: “A mass prayer was led by Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yoseph, over loud-speakers, drowning out women’s prayers.”

They should join forces with Jerusalemites who are exposed to Mosque loudspeakers drowning all other sounds five times a day, every day. Let’s ban all megaphonic religions!

“Despite the provocations of the girls and the loudspeakers, out of great respect, Women of the Wall stopped their prayer to listen and join Rabbi Yoseph’s prayer for his father. The women added “amen” and continued the prayer only when his was finished.”

That’s a hopeful sign, then. Let the man go first, especially if he owns the decibel machine…

“It was a trying and emotional morning for the women many of whom left the Kotel in tears, saddened but also resolved to continue to pray at the holy site,” says the email.

Women of the Wall Blame Gov’t for Their Damaged Torah Scroll

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Women of the Wall now are blaming the government for inadequate storage for their Torah scroll that the group said sustained damaged due to dampness, making it unfit for reading.

Women will gather at the Robinson’s Arch at the Western Wall on Friday, the first of two days that mark the beginning of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, but they will pray without a Torah scroll.

After years of being banned by the police and the Western Wall rabbi from changing the status quo that preserves Orthodox Jewish tradition at the Western Wall (Kotel), authorities earlier this year finally arranged a compromise whereby the women can pray in their minyan and with a Torah scroll, but only at the Kotel’s southern section, known as Robinson’s Arch.

The women’s own Torah scroll is stored there, along with other scrolls that belong to the Conservative movement of Judaism, but it was lent out for use during the recent Jewish holidays and was found to be unfit to use because of mold.

“The Torah is being carefully cleaned and fixed by the leading authorities in Torah scroll repair and maintenance,” according to Women of the Wall spokeswoman Shira Pruce.

She placed the blame for the damage squarely on the government and Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz. His “discrimination against women’s prayers and the lack of an appropriate immediate government response in the matter has cause damage to a Torah scroll, an escalation from the previous blatant disrespect, shown by Rabinowitz and Haredi protesters, of Jewish ritual items, including siddurim, prayer shawls and tefillin,” she said.

After being told about the damage to their scroll, The Women of the Wakkl notififed the Conservartive Movement to schek their scrolls to see if they aslo has been damaged, Pruce told The Jewish Press Wednesday.

Pruce unintentionally made a comment that raises an interesting question about whose ox is being gored.

In her argument that women should be allowed to pray in the women’s section of the main Western Wall Plaza, on the women’s side of a separation barrier, Pruce noted that men are not allowed in the Women of the Wall minyan. One primary reason is that there are many Orthodox Jewish women in the movement and they abide by the tradition that the sexes should not mingle during prayer.

Isn’t that discrimination against men? How can the Women of the Wall rightfully complain that Haredim are discriminating against them by barring them from the  more popular part of the Western Wall, while they discriminate against men who might want to join their minyan?

Pruce  answers that there is a difference. She argues that the main plaza is a public place and not a “synagogue” and that it must be open to everyone, regardless of sex.

Granted that there really is no reason to forbid the women form praying as they wish at the main part of Western Wall, except for their being a nuisance to other women who object to the whole concept of a women’s minyan and Torah reading.

Granted that Rabbi Rabinowitz should have kept quiet and let the women who object to WoW chase them our out, or simply let the Wow pray and as they wish and be done with it.

But if it is a public place open to all, and the Women of the Wall can keep men out of their minyan at Robinson’s Arch, what happens if a group of Muslims decide they want to pray to Allah at the Wall?

Or perhaps a bunch of Christians want to pray to “you know who” at the Kotel?

Or maybe some  “cultural Jewish cult” wants to express their faith in God by a belly dance?

Is it kosher to keep men out of a women-only minyan but not kosher for the authority over the Kotel to keep out women who do not respect  a centuries-old tradition?

Violent Guards and Violent Haredi Extremists Duel in Beit Shemesh

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Six people were wounded and 10 were arrested at a Beit Shemesh construction site Monday when violent Arab guards beat Haredi extremists who broke into a construction site where the Haredim claim Jewish graves are being desecrated.

The guards blocked medics from treating the injured, one paramedic said.

One of the construction site’s project managers is Aryeh Golobinzitz, who is Haredi from Jerusalem and who previously has been beaten up by members of the extremist Atra Kadisha sect. Police detained Golobinzitz and another manager for questioning, along with six security guards and two Haredim.

The protesters broke into the site, and the guards beat them, and one of the victims claimed he was hit with a metal rod during the brawl, which is only the latest of several clashes. Police arrested more than two dozen people last month after hundreds of  Haredi extremists blocked roads and set fires.

Leading Haredi rabbis have rejected Atra Kadisha claims that the construction is taking place over Jewish graves.

In the spirit of the Days of Awe and Repentance, rabbis from Atra Kadisha and from the opposing Edat Haredim community agreed that an inspector from Bnei Brak would be present at the site to make sure no Jewish graves are desecrated.

The agreement lasted as long as Rosh HaShanah and the Fast of Gedaliah, the day afterwards.

On Monday, five days before Yom Kippur, the agreement was as worth as much as the Rosh HaShanah vows to be law abiding Jews reaching out to each other with love and understanding.

On Yom Kippur, which falls on Shabbat this year, there probably will not be any protests, but nothing is certain.

Jordan Calls ‘Women of the Wall’ Prayer Site an ‘Attack on Islam’

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Jordan has condemned the plan for a new area at the Western Wall to accommodate the Women of the Wall organization’s demand for an area for them to pray in an “egalitarian” minyan in which they can wear tefillin and read from a Torah scroll. Orthodox Judaism considers women as “equal but not the same” as men, who have an obligation to wear tefillin and pray in a minyan.

Their campaign offended Haredim and many Orthodox Jews, but with broad support from the Diaspora and media outlets that love issues of quality and women’s rights without knowing what they are talking about, The Women of the Wall succeeded.

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, appointed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to come up with a solution for the women without causing a religious war at the Western Wall, came up with a compromise for the women to pray as they wish at the southern section of the Wall, known as the Kotel.

The WoW were not happy with the compromise, but that is another story.

More urgent, Jordan also is not happy.

The women forgot that although the Western Wall is the city of Jerusalem, totally under Israeli sovereignty, Jordan thinks differently, despite the peace treaty with Israel.

It states that Israel “respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem…. The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.”

Israel has recognized Jordan as the “custodian” of the Al Aqsa mosque built over the ruins of the Holy Temples.

However, Israel did not take into consideration that Yasser Arafat would start a terrorist war to declare the Jewish Quarter of the Old City the capital of a new Arab state. Nor did it take into account that his successor Mahmoud Abbas is as much too clever politician.

Earlier this year, while Israel assumed that the PA was slowing crumbling into non-existence economically and politically, Abbas’ adviser Adnan Husseini declared that the Western Wall “is part of Islamic heritage that cannot be given up, and it must be under Muslim control.”

This past March 31, Abbas and King Abdullah reached an agreement that “His Majesty King ‘Abdullah II, as the custodian of the Jerusalem holy sites, will exert all possible efforts to preserve [these] sites, especially Al-Haram Al-Sharif [The Al-Aqsa Mosque]… and to represent their interests.” The agreement states further that King ‘Abdullah is responsible for ensuring respect for the holy places, guaranteeing the Muslims’ freedom of movement to and from the sites, ensuring their maintenance and representing their interests in the international arena.”

The catch is what is a “Muslim site?”

The Arab world has spent the past few years to translate history into fiction and declare that the Western Wall is a Muslim  site. So who are these uppity Jewish women, Orthodox, Reform or otherwise, to have the chutzpa to make a change at a supposed Muslim site without consulting with the “Custodian”?

Jordanian Minister for Media Affairs, Mohammad Momani condemned Israel’s “construction of a stage in the southern part of the Buraq Square which is adjacent to Al Aqsa-Mosque’s wall,” the Petra News Agency reported Monday.

Note that the Western Wall is now “Al Aqsa Mosque’s Wall,” the one where holy Arabs claim the  holy Mohammed tied his holy horse.

“Momani, who is also government spokesman, said the move is a blatant attack on the Muslim monuments and Waqf land which is an integral part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, demanding Israeli occupation authorities to remove the stage and the damage it caused as soon as possible,” the news agency reported.

Furthermore, “The minister stressed Jordan’s stance in exerting political, diplomatic and legal efforts to protect and care for Muslim and Christian sanctities [sic] in Jerusalem.

“Momani warned of Jewish settlers and extremists’ continued call to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque under the pretext of Jewish holidays, expressing regret over Israel’s disregard of international conventions and resolutions.”

Are the Women of the Wall listening?

Jordan’s policy is “to protect and care for Muslim and Christian ‘sanctities’ in Jerusalem.”

There is one word missing: Jewish.

The Women of the Wall never even dreamed about praying at the Kotel during the Jordanian Occupation, when Jews and Christians were prohibited from visiting holy places. Jordan has made lots of progress since then.

Now it is willing to open up holy places for Christians, and the Jews can wait for the next peace treaty.

As for the Jews “storming” the Temple Mount, that is the de rigeur term now used by the Arab press when police and Muslim escort Jews to make sure they do not commit the crime of taking a prayer book with them while ascending the Temple Mount.

The Women of the Wall have not spoken out about the discrimination against Jews trying to pray on the Temple Mount.

They have said they are focused on their own self-acclaimed rights.

The Women of the Wall, most of them Americans, do not understand with whom they are dealing. Haredim are not their enemies. Judaism is not their enemy.

Their enemies are those who demand that Jews stop being Jews.

Once they understand that, perhaps King Abdullah and Abbas will understand that while can get what they want if they deal with the Israeli government, they should never test the wrath of women.

Maybe Israel should consider sending the Women of the Wall to negotiate with Abbas.

School Starts in Israel

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Millions of adults in Israel are unusually happy today as 2,129,562 children return to school for the start of the school year.

1,700,535 children will be going to grade school, and another 429,177 will be going to nurseries and kindergartens.

A whopping 148,774 children will be starting first grade.

The breakdown of students in each of the major, recognized school system streams is as follows:

Public School:   678,161

Religous Public School:  217,137

Private School:  248,364

Talmud Torah:  50,470

Non-Jewish Schools:  437,503

There are 4,561 schools with  62,962 classrooms, and approximately 15,000 kindergartens/nursery schools in Israel.

For many Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox), the school year started 3 weeks ago, on Rosh Chodesh Elul. It’s estimated that Haredi students make up approximately 30% of the students in Israel.

More statistics can be found on the Ministry of Education’s website.

As one parent told this reporter this morning, “We’re meeting in the park at 10 to throw a party”.

I’ll be there.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/school-starts-in-israel/2013/08/27/

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