web analytics
August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Ramat Beit Shemesh’

Aliyah and Keeping Young with Yisrael

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

As an education writer for the nonprofit organization, Kars4Kids, and as someone who made Aliyah from Pittsburgh 34 years ago, I decided to write about the challenges of Aliyah from western countries with school age children. See the previous piece in this series, Fully Absorbed, Coming Through to the Other Side.

As a teen, Randi Lipkin spent three consecutive summers working at HASC, a camp for Jewish children with special needs. Randi’s husband Michael spent his nineteenth summer as a counselor there, and the couple both worked at HASC one summer after they were married, never knowing that someday, they would have a special needs child of their own.

The Lipkin family made Aliyah in August of 2004, with four children from Edison, New Jersey. After they made Aliyah, Randi discovered she was pregnant with Yisrael, who has Down syndrome.

Michael serves as senior editor of financial articles at a local company, Seeking Alpha. Randi is an occupational therapist who works at a “Gan Safa,” a Beit Shemesh nursery school for children with developmental language delays. The Lipkins live in Beit Shemesh.

Proud father Michael Lipkin holds newborn Yisrael Simcha (photo credit: courtesy Michael Lipkin)

Proud father Michael Lipkin holds newborn Yisrael Simcha (photo credit: courtesy Michael Lipkin)

V: Tell me a bit about your children and their adjustment to your Aliyah.

Michael: We had 4 children when made Aliyah. They were 19, 17, 14, and 3 when we moved. Our oldest, one year post-seminary, was our big Zionist and would have moved here even if we hadn’t. Her adjustment was very smooth. She married a year and half later and is now living in our neighborhood with her husband and 3 children.

Our next oldest was borderline interested in moving. As she was entering her senior year in a Flatbush Beit Yaakov the year we made Aliyah, we decided it was best for her to finish high school there while boarding with Randi’s sister who lived nearby. She subsequently came here for seminary, married soon after, and is living in Bet Shemesh with her husband and 3 children.

Our older son had the toughest adjustment. Even though he wanted to move he had a difficult time adjusting to dorm life at Maarava high school. However, he is now our most integrated child having married an Israeli girl and is currently serving his country.

Our youngest at the time adapted very well because of her young age and smarts.

V: How old were you and Randi when Randi became pregnant with Yisrael?

Michael: I was 47 and Randi was 45. We had just had our first grandson and our second daughter was married during Randi’s pregnancy.

V: How did you and Randi feel about the pregnancy? How was the level of obstetric care here compared to the care Randi received in the States during previous pregnancies?

Michael: I was ecstatic, very excited, but nervous for her. Getting pregnant at that age was nervous-making, and of course, we worried about Down syndrome.

Randi: The overall care here was fine, but I found it very weird that you develop a relationship with a doctor and then he has absolutely nothing to do with your delivery. The experience was totally different than in the states. In certain ways the doctors seemed very laidback and in other ways hyper-nervous.

I had gestational diabetes as I’d had before in my previous pregnancies. The doctor transferred my entire case to an obstetrician that handles gestational diabetes and I at one point said to the doctor, “Can we listen to the heartbeat?”

They were too focused on the diabetes. There was far less connection to me as an expectant mother compared to what I had experienced in the States. Of course, I’d had tremendous relationships with my doctors in the States, because I’d known them for 25 years. It’s just not what you have here.

Since I was having an elective, planned C-section, we paid for a private doctor instead of showing up at the hospital and just getting whoever was on duty that day and we felt very comfortable with that decision.

V: I know you gave Yisrael the middle name “Simcha” because you wanted him to always know he brought simcha, joy, into your lives. Was that immediate? Or did it take some adjusting to the idea?

New Group Combating Child Molestation in Ultra Orthodox Enclave

Monday, March 5th, 2012

“Magen” is a new Child Protection Agency operating in Ramat Beit Shemesh, two miles south of the city of Beit Shemesh, whose Haredi vs. National Religious and Secular clamorous encounters made headlines a month or so ago. But Magen deals with a quieter, more sinister aspect of life in this area. Founded two years ago, Magen’s website now reports the presence of at least 36 suspected child abusers in the community of Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Two weeks ago, on 20th February, the new organization sent out this message to the Beit Shemesh community by email:

WARNING

It has come to our attention that there is a man operating in  Ramat Bet Shemesh who has reportedly lured and attacked young girls.

His modus operandi is reportedly that he approaches a young girl and invites her to “help him” in darkened or secluded areas (storage areas, car parks, etc) and then he attacks the girl. (This method may change – so it is better not to be too specific when discussing this with your children).

Anyone who notices anything strange of this nature should immediately call the police and if possible take photos.

If one sees a child being lured or led into such a dark or secluded area, or into a vehicle, one should certainly intervene, without placing oneself in danger, for instance by asking the child if the man is her or his father. Please note any identifying information, such as location of incident, description of the person and what he is wearing, ethnicity, age, unusual facial characteristics, smells and any other details, even if they seem inconsequential at the time.

For victims, it’s essential that the police are informed and that they be able to interview any children involved (which is done exclusively by highly trained experts), so that they may investigate and arrest this person, and also so the child receive professional assistance if required.

Please contact the Police and Magen if you have any information or you need assistance in coping with this problem.

Yorkshire, England born Magen Executive Director David Morris, is a young looking father of six who says he is affiliated with the National Religious and is an entrepreneur in the field of electro-optics. Some 10 years ago, he founded a charity organization called Lema’an Achai (For my Brothers) in the then fledgling Ramat Beit Shemesh, applying innovative methods to empowering poor residents.

As part of his function as head of the charity organization, David Morris started hearing more and more reports of child abuse from clients, and began to look for ways of resolving each one.

In spite of strong support from much of the community and rabbinical leadership for improving child safety, he began to encounter resistance within the community, and his endeavor was at risk. All closed communities are anxious about revelations of corruption in their midst, and their natural tendency is often to circle the wagons.

David Morris decided to pick his battles, and so, instead of courting confrontation, he decided to separate his charity work from his dealing with child abuse cases, and launched Magen, a completely independent organization dealing strictly with complaints of child abuse in Beit Shemesh.

That was two years ago. Today Magen has identified four areas of activity in child protection against abuse in this orthodox enclave.

1. Raising awareness through education 2. Hotline, email for questions and reports 3. Support and help for victims and their families 4. Management of alleged perpetrators in the community.

A few months ago, Morris reported to the Nefesh Mental Health Conference in Jerusalem that in the first 18 months of the new agency’s involvement in the community, 40 men have been reported to Magen as having abused children. The organization is aware of 109 children who have allegedly been abused. That makes it one alleged perpetrator to three alleged victims.

According to Morris, 90% of the cases reported to Magen were from the community of Ramat Beit Shemesh.

“Magen is now well known in Ramat Beit Shemesh, and this probably explains much of the frequency and quantity of abuse reports we are seeing in that community. As our activities increase in other communities in Bet Shemesh, we would expect some evening-out,” Morris says.

Of the reported offenses, 78% were sex crimes against children. This compared to 10-15% nationally, as reported by the Child Protection Association of Israel.

Magen also reports that 72% of the alleged victims are boys – which reflects the trend in Jerusalem, where, according to the Child Protection Center of Jerusalem, a majority of child sex-abuse victims are also now male.

“Families have traditionally been primarily worried about their daughters being potentially abused,” Morris confirms. He urges local families, while continuing to guard and educate their daughters in this area, not to forget the risks to their sons.

How’s Beit Shemesh

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

It was a hot sunny day in Ramat Beit Shemesh. I, Yonah Rossman had just gone two the local grocery to buy some simple things amongst them a large amount of seltzer making my bags rather heavy. The grocery store is situated at the top a big hill as like many other communities in Israel it is built on a hilltop. As such my walk down to the bottom of the hill was going to be a rather annoying one particularly painful for my fingers. But what can I do? I have to get my things to the bottom of the hill. I could tremp I thought, but surely no one would want me to come in their car with all my bags of much needed water, and after all it was not so far down. So I started to walk and my fingers started to numb. It was quite painful. I continued walking a whole of thirty seconds though, and behold there it was a car, or should I say minivan. I looked at it, it looked at me, and behold it was driven by a person, a woman who lived in the community. Want a ride? She asked. Do I? I did. I hopped in the front seat buckled up with several bags at my side. A minute later she pulled up by the curb and let me off. It was only my second day or so In the Ramat Beit Shemesh community when I realized where it was to that I really had arrived.

It wasn’t the first act of kindness I had seen or experienced and it certainly was not the last. The fact that people stopped to pick up Yeshiva students or others to take them to where they needed to go I realized was a given in the minds of residents in Ramat Beit Shemesh and it happens all the time. Why not help someone in need? On one such occasion I hitched a ride to “Big” the large supermarket in Beit Shemesh. A friend of mine happened to have bough a pair of headphones but his parents sent him a pair right after. He wanted to return them at the electronic store. Unfortunately to his disappointment once they were opened they were un-returnable. They were expensive to. We were ready to leave the store in disappointment when a man looked at him, asked him about his situation and genuinely felt his frustration. So he bought them off of my friend even though he clearly did not need headphones, this however I do not think my friend realized. The man was a stranger but to us, but to him a Jew walking by who was even slightly not happy was not a stranger at all.

It was not only in cars and in supermarkets of people of the Beit Shemesh area that I got to witness what great people I was amongst it was also in their houses. I was walking one day and a woman came out of her house with her little child and asked me and my friends if we could help her with something. We happily agreed. What was it she wanted? Well, there was a huge spider or so she thought crawling around her kitchen; she wanted us to catch it and kindly remove it from the house. We tried. We really did. We wrestled it with a broom. But it appeared more like a scorpion and got away to under the oven. We had failed our mission. So the woman thanked us for her efforts and decided to wait for her husband to come home and save her. That however was not how I learned what kind of community Iwas in, although she did offer us to come by whenever we wanted. It was through the countless invites to different houses for shabbos meals. On Rosh Hashana I ate at four different peoples houses who were all very welcoming – and made great food. I actually found out that one of the people who I ate at used to be my siblings teacher in the US, and many who live here, in Beit Shemesh not only speak English but also come from the same place that I lived and went to school, Monsey and Teaneck and other familiar places.

On one particularly showing occasion I was walking on one of the streets maybe 45 minutes before Shabbos. I saw in front of me a gathering in the middle of the street. As I got closer and tried to figure out what the buzz was all about. I heard little snippets of people’s conversations until I realized what was going on. A child with some sort of mental issue went missing and random strangers were being given assignments to find him. Once I realized the situation I took down the phone number of the man in charge and went to gathered some guys to find him. People of all different walks of Judaism, knowing the risk of a missing child unified for his safety. Minutes later he was in his parents hands.

Sometimes it takes sorrow, pain, or fear to unite a community. The sorrow after the loss of a leader like at the levaya of Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the pain of loss, or the terrible fear of a missing child. Sometimes people are not united when these things lack. Sometimes that is true, but not always. This I learned in this last experience I share with you. Simchat Torah, 5771 – my first of the three regalim in Israel. Not everything was as it ussually is in the states but some things were – slight variations of the tfilla, and other such things. There was however one difference, it was in Israel – one of gods great gifts to the Jewish people. We davened, Shma Shmoneh esraei and then we started hakafot. During the hakafot though, we didn’t just sing and dance as a Yeshiva or as a minyan, that just wasn’t enough. We left the building onto the street (obviously being emty of cars as you rarely see one on Shabbos in Ramat Beit Shemesh) and then we went back inside. Not into our minyan but one near by. We joined another minyan and danced with them, for a while hand in hand with there children on our shoulders. The next day we joined hakafot with a different shul and celebrated the torah with the community around us. It was an experience of achdut you get in few places.

It’s not just the achdut or the reality of Simcha that can be fealt here, in Ramat Beit Shemesh. The Torah here is real. I don’t mean just in the post high school Yeshiva students and Daf Yomi shiurim for those who work. The little children really know Torah. They know Tanach they. They recite Mishnayot beal Peh. Most of all though, they Live Torah.

Now anyone who is reading this surely has read many things in the media about Beit Shemesh, Ramat Beit Shemesh. One may even think after reading the news I am talking about a different Beit Shemesh than the one in the media. Well I have to admit that is partially true as I live in Ramat Beit Shemesh Alephand most of the tension does not happen here, most of the tension does not happen in most of the places at all. Am I lying to you? Can it be that Beit Shemesh is a great place? Yes. It can be and it is. I stand at the bus stop and I see people live there life. People get on people get off. I have yet to see someone spit on another. Does that mean it doesn’t happen? No, certainly not. Does that mean that there arn’t issues? Not at all. But every place has issues. Monsey, Teaneck, Yerushalayim, Kansas, and even Canada. No place is perfect, and issues need to be dealt with. I am not evaluating the issues at hand, its not for me to do. But I am saying that Beit Shemesh and Ramat Beit Shemesh is not a chaotic pandemonium – at least not most of it. So this is why when I was standing on line a the central bus station in Yerushalayim this past week when someone asked me “How’s Beit Shemesh these day? I told him: “It’s great – mostly, it has problems like everywhere even so its doing great.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/uncategorized//2012/01/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: