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December 3, 2016 / 3 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Meah Shearim’

New Draft Law a Gift of Hope to Impoverished Haredim and to Israel

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

The latest incarnation of the Haredi Draft Law, aka “The Perry Law,” is an excellent piece of legislation.

The Haredi community suffers from serious problems, which are affecting the rest of the country as well.

Haredi towns and neighborhoods are among the poorest in Israel.

The cycle of poverty in which Haredim are stuck is due in part to the way governments have dealt with the draft issue in the past (no army service—no work permit), but, just as significantly, due of the way the political leaders (“askanim”) of the Haredi community have created a social structure that locks people into the cycle of poverty, thus also guaranteeing their reliance on those same leaders for education, social acceptance, and money.

Israel’s society also suffers from Haredi poverty, because when such a large segment of the population relies on welfare payments, the effect on the economy is devastating.

The new Haredi draft law has just passed its first reading, and will now undergo review in a special committee chaired by Jewish Home’s MK Ayelet Shaked, before it is sent back for a second and third round in the Knesset.

This law is not so much about getting Haredim into the army in the near future, as it is about immediately permitting Haredim into the legal workforce, thus breaking the cycle of poverty.

The new law divides Haredi society into three age groups:

If passed, the law will immediate allow Haredim ages 22 and up to enter the workforce if they wish, and never have to worry about being drafted again. They will receive a permanent exemption. They can also sit and learn forever, if they so choose.

Next, the law will allow Haredim ages 18-22 to defer their draft until they reach age 24, and then, at age 24, they may decide if they want to serve in the army, do national service, go to work, or stay in kollel and learn forever. In other words, to this age group the law guarantees temporary exemptions until they may receive a permanent exemption. But, once again, they would be able to legally join the workforce in 4 to 6 years.

The third age group are Haredim who will turn 18 in the year 2017.

Out of this group, 1,800 will receive exemptions to sit and learn Torah, for the first time effectively sanctioning Torah study in the Jewish State as the full equivalent of military service.

The fate of rest of those who turn 18 in 2017 will depend in some way on what today’s 18-22 age group does over the next 4 years.

The government intends to set a draft quota of 5,200 Haredim out of the approximately 8,000 who will reach 18 in 2017. Out of that quota, 3,000 will enlist in the IDF, 2,200 will do National Service—most likely in their own communities. The remaining 2,800 will receive permanent exemptions.

But, if the full 5,200 quota isn’t met, then the envisioned 2,800 exemptions will be automatically reduced to 1,800.

Give and take.

Incidentally, last year some 2,200 Haredim were drafted. Out of that group, 1,300 enlisted in the IDF and 900 did national service.

This year, the total number of enlisting Haredim is expected to reach 3,300. Not so far from the envisioned quota ( which could change following the committee review and the Knesset debate).

Indeed, Haredi youths are already at close to two-thirds of the draft quota of 4 years from now, and the sky hasn’t fallen.

This isn’t a one-way street as the IDF will gain as well. We think merely adding a large group of soldiers who are mature, disciplined, who don’t curse, and who keep the Mitzvot would go a long way to improving our army—but the much more important result of the law should be felt immediately, with Haredim who did not serve in the army legally taking on jobs to feed their families, with honor.

We happen to believe that, just as Haredi young men will surely make for a better, more civilized and more Jewish army, so will mass entry into the workforce have a similar positive influence on Israeli society.

Stephen Leavitt

The ‘Houses of Ill Repute’ of Nahal and Shahar

Monday, July 8th, 2013

And out come the extremist zealots of the Charedi world! Those who in part because of their insular lifestyle – have no concept of civilized behavior. And have the unmitigated gall to act in uncivilized and dangerous ways with absolutely no respect for human dignity. These are the people who have become all too familiar to us. They are the spitters, rock throwers,  and haters who do all of those things and more in the name of God.

We see them constantly in Meah Shearim, Bnei Brak, Bet Shemesh, and Williamsburg. In fact they were at it again this morning – directing their rage toward the Women of the Wall at what was otherwise a mostly peaceful event. From the Jewish Press:

A crowd of mostly male haredi Orthodox protesters surrounded the barricade, with some protesters singing and yelling epithets such as “Get out, Nazis!” Later in the service, protesters threw eggs and a bottle of water at the women, striking a male supporter of the group in the head.

I need not go into all the damage they have done and continue to do to Klal Yisroel. I have discussed their escapades so many times in the past that it’s getting boring, already. Not to mention the fact that I will run out of space if I start mentioning them all.

What have they done this time? From the New York Times:

On billboards in the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim quarter of Jerusalem last week, black-and-white posters warned the public against the “licentious military” coming to tempt innocent Haredi youths into “the whorehouses of Nahal and Shahar.” (and) portraying those soldiers, who volunteered under programs meant to attract Haredim, as fat, bearded, gun-toting caricatures in uniform snatching terrified Haredi children off the streets.

… The comics-style campaign against Haredi soldiers has been primarily aimed at children to counter what opponents of the draft said was the military’s attempt to legitimize the young men by sending them into ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in uniform.

As part of the outreach to children, the anonymous organizers of the “Hardakim” campaign announced a children’s poster competition this summer via a Gmail account, soliciting entries showing how best to shun the soldiers.

Pini Rozenberg, a spokesman for the Haredi community in Jerusalem, said the campaign was “an internal Haredi matter meant to explain to the Haredi youth why the army institutions are not, and will never be, legitimate.”

He added: “It is not personally directed against any particular soldier. It is purely educational.”

Who said that these people don’t get an education?! They do. And this is it.

Here is a description of one Charedi soldier’s experience:

(H)e had suffered daily abuse in recent months, being spit at and chased by children and teenagers calling out “Germ!” and “Traitor!” He now carries tear gas for self-defense…

This is indeed the sad and unintended consequence of what the government is trying to do to correct inequities in the military draft. It is something Jonathan Rosenblum first wrote about in lamenting the  reversal of progress made in this area internally by Charedim themselves.

Jonathan feels that the blame lies with the Lapid and company … that this backlash is a result of their external interference. Had they not tried to force change on the system, the Charedi world would have continued correcting themselves on their own and innovations like Nachal Charedi and Shachar would have continued to expand.

While I think that’s probably true – as far as it goes, I do not see Lapid et al at fault here. You cannot blame someone for doing the right thing just because vigilantes will strike back. You cannot let evil dictate your actions even if there are negative consequences due to retaliation. That would be giving in to evil. It would be like telling witnesses not to testify in sex abuse cases because their families will be harassed.

The fault lies in the attitudes fostered in the societies that produce these animals. A society that educates their children as described above. All that is needed to precipitate that kind of response is the kind of rhetoric heard in these quarters about Lapid’s actions being a Shas HaShmad. And then the Eytan Kobres of the world pour gasoline onto the fire with their own rhetoric… all while pointing out that we shouldn’t have rocked the boat. His words are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem.

Harry Maryles

Neturey Karta Ask Obama for Protection from the Zionists

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

To the anti-Zionist faction Neturei Karta is attempting to exploit the difficult relationship between U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and to incite the former against the state of Israel. The Jerusalem Haredi neighborhood of Mea Shearim is awaiting Obama with American flags and a united call from the crowds to save hundreds of thousands of Jews from the “Zionists evil.”

Treating the president as if he was, at least, a Rosh Yeshiva, if not a Rebbe, the good people of Meah Shearim prepared special posters adorned with American flags on either side of a lovely shield that reads: The Agenda for the reception of his excellency Mr. Obama in the holy city of Jerusalem, 9 Nissan, 5773.

The poster itself reads, in text adorned by the five-pointed stars of the U.S. flag:

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The Haredi Jews of Jerusalem Headed by the Rabbis, may they live long, Congregates On Wednesday, 9 Nissan, 5773 At 1:30 in the afternoon At the Meah Shearim Plaza And from there the congregation will proceed carrying U.S. flags To receive his excellency the President And ask of him To liberate the Haredi Jewish community And the entire Holy Land From the grip of the Zionist bandits!

Signed: The Haredi community in the Holy Land.

The separatist community of Neturei Karta views the entire Zionist experience as an unholy act of defiance against the gentile world, costing many Jewish lives. Their stated submission to the visiting president will be accompanied with a request, printed on another wall poster, that he use his influence “to save hundreds of thousands of Jews from the evil harassments of the Zionists, who wish to force them to abandon their faith and even, God forbid, force them to serve in the Army – an act which defies the religion and any sense of justice and human morality – and to liberate us from the repression of the Zionist infidels.”

The ads further implore Obama, the “Exalted President,” that “his heart be awake and attentive to the suffering of the Jews who hold on to the original Jewish faith of thousands of years.”

They pray for him and bless him that, should he help them, “The God of Israel will do right by the one who does good for His people, and bring him years of tranquility and success, and wherever he turns he shall act wisely, for the sake of the great kingdom of the United States and all of humanity, as the president and his government wish.”

Yori Yanover

A World Untouched by Civilization

Friday, September 21st, 2012

The woman, wearing a tank top and jeans, has her full attention on the tomato box. The haredi woman touches one of her bare arms. The woman turns around and the haredi woman immediately snaps at her, pointing at her bare arms: “Next time don’t come to the market like this. Next time you’ll come with sleeves.”

The above excerpt from an article in Ynet illustrates one of problems isolationist societies like the one that Charedi woman ‘Tznius- cop” no doubt comes from.

Machane Yehuda (pictured) was overhauled by Jewish merchants very likely in order to compete with the Arab Shuk. The Arab Shuk was opened up to Jews after the 6-day war. And business boomed. Arab merchants of all types selling their wares had a new and booming market in all the Israelis and tourists that came to visit the Kotel. Going through the Arab Shuk was one of the common ways to leave that area. On my first trip to Israel I exited the Kotel Plaza that way. It was (and still is) a sight to behold.

But once the terrorism started, many Jews feared entering that area – although some Jews (mostly tourists I imagine) still shop there. The Shuk was a great place to buy produce at a very cheap price. Sensing a need, a new market for cheap produce was estabished outside the old city for Jews. It is called Machane Yehuda. If I recall correctly it is not far from Meah Shearim. Some people call it the Israeli Shuk.

Meah Shearim residents shop there. But they are not the only ones. Secular Jews are increasingly doing so. And that is where yet another clash of cultures takes place.

Here’s the problem. Meah Shearim Jews have a heightened sensitivity to Tznius violations. A woman wearing a sleeveless top and slacks will be considered inappropriately attired.

While this may not be a Halachicly acceptable way for a Jewish woman to dress in public – most of the rest of the world – religious Jews included – is used to this kind of dress and thinks nothing of it. Even for those who do consider it a problem they simply try not to look at an immodestly dressed woman. In the world of Meah Shearim this intolerable. They cannot handle it.

So to the extent they are able – they try to impose their modesty standards. Hence one will see signs related to female dress as one enters the Meah Shearim neighborhoods. This phenomenon in and of itself is tolerable. The residents of that neighborhood have a right to express their sensitivities to those who enter their neighborhoods. What they do not have a right to do is enforce them. Unfortunately some of the more militant residents of that neighborhood don’t care about whether or not they have that right or not. They enforce it. In some cases using means that the Mafia would be proud of.

There are horror stories of acid or bleach being spilled on innocent passersby if they were dressed in less than Meah Shearim community Tznius standards. They also have Tznius squads that go around checking what people wear and intimidating merchants into carrying Tznius signs throughout Meah Shearim and the nearby Geula neighborhood. They have torched stores, beat up businessmen who sold “inappropriate” technology, and vandalized a religious bookstore for refusing to carry one of their signs.

Until recently their tactics have been limited to their own neighborhoods. But now they have decided to branch out. We all know about the intimidating tactics that took place last year in Bet Shemesh where an eight-year old girl was harassed daily on her way to a religious school and called a whore. But now they are branching out. To places like Machane Yehuda. And instead of men doing the harassing – it is women.

Last year it happened to some women walking in the streets of Jerusalem outside of the Meah Shearim neighborhood.

Here’s the thing. They cannot impose their standards on the world. They do not own the world. Just because they see someone they think is not properly dressed does not give them the right to intimidate them. To most of the civilized world that is a forgone conclusion. But not for them.

Harry Maryles

Spin the Chicken

Friday, September 21st, 2012

A young Jewish man waves a female chicken over his wife’s head in the neighborhood of Meah Shearim, Jerusalem, as part of the Kaparot ritual. The rite is supposed to transfer her sins from last year onto the innocent bird, and the sinful chicken is then given to the poor.

But, wait a minute, if the poor will eat the soup that was made from the sinful chicken, wouldn’t he or she reacquire the man’s wife’s sins?

Our Friend rabbi Josh Yuter from the Stanton Street Shul has tweeted recently that we should combine the two minhagim of Tashlich and Kaparot and throw live chickens into the ocean.

It should make a splash…

One of the few times I did Kaparot was under the Delancey Street bridge, back in the early 1980s. There was a kosher chicken market there for the holidays, and it smelled, well, fowl. The bird felt warm and frightened in my arms, and it endured silently the spinning and the verses I was saying, which, had he understood English should have alerted him to what came next…

I know he would have much preferred a swim in the ocean…

Yori Yanover

Raising More Tolerant Children

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

All responsible leaders in our community have roundly condemned the recent violence in Beit Shemesh and Meah Shearim. Even the Eida HaCharedis, which is the umbrella group of the anti-Zionist Yerushalmi kehilla, criticized the actions of the “Sirikim” (zealots) who are generating much of the mayhem, stating that they are a radical fringe group of several dozen radical families.

What is becoming increasingly apparent from reviewing posts on Jewish blogs and the hundreds of e-mails I’ve received over the past few days is that there is a huge divide between those who decry the violence in unequivocal terms and those who offer mitigating circumstances to fully or partially explain the poor behavior.

Since I began writing columns for The Jewish Press promoting tolerance and decrying violence of any kind, many people have told me, “You are American; you just don’t understand what battles haredi Israelis face with the secular Jews.”

Well, it is my tefillah that we never come to think that violence under any circumstance is acceptable. We can neither condone it nor justify it – in the same way we would never excuse murder or child abuse. Violence hurts the victims, but far worse, it corrupts the souls of the perpetrators.

Thirty years of dealing with teens at risk and families in crisis gives one a pretty good feel for which families will emerge whole from the challenges that compelled them to seek help. One of the greatest predictors of success is the attitude of family members. In the initial meeting, those who say things like “We all made mistakes and we are committed to working things out,” almost always get through their crisis. But folks who fail to look inward and say things like “We raised three perfect children and the fourth one is ruining our lives,” will rarely see improvement until their attitude changes.

We are doing ourselves and our children a terrible disservice – and will be sowing the bitter seeds of future episodes like the ones that have been making headlines in Israel – if we avoid the grueling introspection and cheshbon hanefesh that a crisis of this magnitude requires, and instead blame all the mayhem on the secular press and the ongoing struggle between the secular and haredi communities.

In a magazine interview a while back, Rabbi Shmuel Papenheim, a former spokesperson for the Eidah, lamented that the elders of his kehilla have no control over the Sirikim.

What was most striking, however, was the feeling one got from reading the article that in his view the evolution of the Sirikim into such a destructive force was a natural disaster like an earthquake rather than an inevitable outgrowth of tolerating violence under certain circumstances.

The Sifri (Midrashic commentary) in Devarim (343) notes that when Hashem revealed Himself to give the Torah, He first went to the children of Eisav and asked them if they would accept it. They replied that they could not do so because the Torah says, “You shall not murder,” and Eisav’s father Yitzchak gave him the blessing of “Al charbicha tichyeh,” by your sword shall you live (Bereishis 27:40).

Our great rebbi, Rav Avrohom Pam, zt”l, who lived every moment of his life pursuing peace and harmony, asked, “How can we possibly think Yitzchak blessed his son Eisav that he be successful in killing people?”

Rebbi explained that Yitzchak’s blessing was for Eisav to “live by the sword” by effectively hunting and by defending himself when attacked in battle. However, since his daily bread came through bloodshed, he and his children became desensitized to killing to the point where it would be inconceivable for them to accept a Torah that forbid the taking of human life.

If the “blessed” actions of Eisav had such a corrosive effect on him and his family members, how much more so is the moral compass of children shredded by listening to adults speak about others in hateful terms, or even worse watching them engaging in violence for “good” causes.

Truth be told, we all need to improve how we get along with those who come from different backgrounds. Upon the advice of a reader, I opened a thread on our website (www.kosherjewishparenting.com; see “Increasing K’vod Shamayim”) inviting people to make suggestions on what we can do to help mitigate the terrible chillul Hashem and to help raise more tolerant and respectful children. We invite you to join the dialogue and hope it will continue to help us all raise more tolerant children steeped in genuine ahavas Yisrael.

Earlier this week I shared a beautiful insight from Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky, zt”l, with my talmidim in Yeshiva Darchei Noam that might be appropriate for us to use as a springboard for discussion with our children and grandchildren this Shabbos.

The final charge of Yaakov Avinu to his gathered sons, as recorded in this week’s parshah, is referred to as the Birchos (blessings of) Yaakov – even though many of them seem to be describing attributes of his children rather than blessings. Reb Yaakov suggests that the greatest blessing and gift a parent can give his or her children is to explain to them their unique strengths and weaknesses – treating them as individuals and celebrating their diversity.

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Torah World Mourns Loss of Jerusalem Rosh Yeshiva Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

The streets of Meah Shearim, normally bustling with shoppers and yeshiva students walking to and from the iconic Mirrer Yeshiva, were filled with mourners on Tuesday as tens of thousands of people came to pay their respects to Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt”l, the Mirrer Yeshiva’s rosh yeshiva, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 68 from a sudden heart attack.

In the 21 years that Rabbi Finkel served at its helm, the Mirrer Yeshiva, in the Beis Yisroel neighborhood of Jerusalem, grew to be the largest yeshiva in Israel with an enrollment of 6,000 students. While Rabbi Finkel was confined to a wheelchair and suffered from Parkinson’s disease for many years, he continued to maintain a full schedule, and just hours before his death, Rabbi Finkel traveled to Bnei Brak to pay a shiva call to the family of Rabbi Yosef Aryeh Halpern. He then returned to the Mirrer where he delivered shiurim (classes) in both English and Yiddish.

Born in Chicago in 1943, Rabbi Finkel was named after his paternal great-grandfather, the Alter of Slobodka. Even as a child his prodigious intellect convinced many that he was destined for greatness. He married his second cousin, Rochel Leah Finkel, the daughter of Rav Binyamin Beinush Finkel and granddaughter of the last rosh yeshiva of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Poland, Rav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel.

Upon the death of his father-in-law in 1990, Rabbi Finkel succeeded him as the head of the Mirrer Yeshiva, and while the choice of a 48-year-old who already suffered from various ailments seemed questionable to some, Rabbi Finkel ultimately transformed the institution into the Torah empire it is today, with satellite branches in Beitar Ilit, the Brachfeld neighborhood of Modiin Ilit, and the Ramat Shlomo section of Jerusalem.

Despite his poor health, Rabbi Finkel, who enjoyed a reputation of being an inspiration to all who knew him, was known to travel abroad in order to personally raise much-needed funds for the yeshiva and its students. His daily schedule was filled with delivering shiurim, both in his home and at the yeshiva; counseling the many who came to seek his advice and blessings; and spending a sizable portion of his day immersed in his own personal Torah studies. Rabbi Finkel was vigilant to always daven in the yeshiva and gave a weekly shiur to thousands of students, in addition to giving frequent shiurim at the many satellite branches of the Mirrer. In his final monthly shiur given at the Brachfeld Mirrer two and a half weeks ago, he exhorted the students, “to learn and learn. It doesn’t matter if your learning is fast or slow, if it is in greater detail or lesser detail, the request that I am asking of you is to learn, not to dream.”

Stories about Rabbi Finkel have been filling the Internet, people’s homes, and the streets of Jewish communities around the world since his death. The following two illustrate his ability to find time in his busy schedule for his students:

A Mirrer student was going through a particularly rough stretch in his life, so his father called Rabbi Finkel asking him to speak to his son for a few minutes. Rabbi Finkel approached the student and asked him if he could personally learn with him every Shabbos in his house. They subsequently learned together every Shabbos for the next several months.

In another instance, Rabbi Finkel discovered that several American students in a Yiddish shiur could not follow the lesson. From then on, Rabbi Finkel, who spoke fluent English, would repeat every class in English for the American students.

As news of the unexpected passing of Rabbi Finkel spread, the entire city of Jerusalem was plunged into mourning with people crying in the streets, tearing their clothes as an expression of their grief, and trying to offer solace to one another. Prominent rabbis, including Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv and Rav Aryeh Leib Shteinman, ordered all haredi businesses closed and instructed kollel, yeshiva, and seminary students to take time off from their Torah studies to attend the funeral. Israeli news site B’chadrei Chareidim reported that two baby boys, one in Bayit Vegan and another in Bnei Brak, were named Nosson Tzvi Wednesday morning in honor of the rosh yeshiva.

Sandy Eller

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/torah-world-mourns-loss-of-jerusalem-rosh-yeshiva-rav-nosson-tzvi-finkel/2011/11/12/

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