Photo Credit: Avshalom Sassoni / Flash 90
Israelis march in protest against the Israeli government's planned judicial overhaul, in Bnei Brak, on March 23, 2023.

Hundreds of leftist protesters and anarchists marched through the main artery of haredi religious city of Bnei Brak on Thursday night, a time when many Orthodox Jewish families are out doing their shopping for Shabbat preparations the next day.

The demonstrators, using the de rigeur bass drum, megaphones, yelling and nonstop horn honking, effectively prevented local residents from going out to do their evening shopping but failed to engage the residents in conflict.


Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, a leader in the Litvish stream of Judaism, along with the three top rabbis in the Bnei Brak Rabbinate, all called on their followers and in fact, all residents, not to engage with those who were intent on disrupting their lives.

Some residents ignored those instructions and responded with kindness when anger was expected.

While some protesters responded with deep emotion as their Jewish souls were touched.

Israel Police deployed massive forces in the hope of preventing violence during the anarchists’ efforts to disrupt the lives of residents. At one point someone launched fireworks in the direction of the protesters.

A number of protesters repeatedly tried to enter the various neighborhoods of Bnei Brak, contrary to the route that was agreed upon with the police, whose officers attempted to stop the protesters from deviating from the agreed route.

One group involved with the nationwide anti-government protests, however – “Standing Together” – did not agree with the decision to invade the religious city.

“Our struggle is against the policies of the government, not against any community,” the group said in a statement.

“The protests against the haredi residents of Bnei Brak are illegitimate and mistaken as they pit people against each other instead of the people against the regime.

“All of us, religious and secular, Jews and Arabs, those in the center of the country and those in the periphery, all of us have the same interest because this government is harming us all,” the group maintained.

“We will make a stand in the streets against this out-of-touch and tone-deaf government and declare this country belongs to us all.”

Togetherness notwithstanding, the group emphasized that it would instead hold an alternative demonstration beginning at 7 pm in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square, rather than march in Bnei Brak.

Meanwhile, local Haredi residents in Bnei Brak gave their own feedback of the protest to
“I felt like they were dedicating a new Torah, with all the songs”

“I was at the very beginning and there was laughter.”
“I was in the middle and saw a lot of ultra-Orthodox and only a few protesters”
“Until now, they played ultra-Orthodox music loudly.”
“There was laughter.”


And perhaps for the first time, there was serious talks between the secular and the Haredi sectors.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.