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Nov 27, 2007

the de-haredization of a neighborhood

This is the "pashkevil" thrown around in Givat Shaul nowadays.

Givat Shaul is a neighborhood in Jerusalem. It is a Haredi neighborhood right by the entrance to the city. It borders on Kiryat Moshe which is mostly a National Religious neighborhood. At the top of the road continuing out of Givat Shaul is the famous Merkaz Ha'Rav (Kook) yeshiva, which is the premier yeshiva in the Dati Leumi world.

It seems that a number of families connected with Merkaz Ha'Rav have moved down into the Haredi neighborhood of Givat Shaul. The sign above condemns their attempts to make changes in the neighborhood and their attempts to muscle in. The sign asks if their public school system which has already become bankrupt of values and whose alumni have already abandoned all memories of Judaism, now they want to bring that to our neighborhood?

It also asks if their mixed educations which contains no Torah and no derech eretz and whose students have taken every "infection" from the Middle East, should be an example for our children?

The pashkevil closes cynically and hurtfully "Go to Chomesh and Gush Katif and leave us, residents of Givat Shaul, alone." It is a hurtful statement because they are suggesting that the dedication to the land is what caused their failures (true or perceived) in the notes within the letter, i.e. regarding the failure to educate their children and keep them on the path of Torah.

Many neighborhoods in Jerusalem and other places have been "haredized". A few haredim move in to a secular or national religious neighborhood, often because of cheaper real estate prices. Life moves on and over time slowly but surely more and more haredim trickle into the neighborhood. Eventually they reach a sizeable minority and they start making their requests. They want a shul of their own. They want a school of their own. They want a certain road closed on shabbos. They want the local swimming pool to have more hours of separate swimming. Etc.

Eventually they become the majority because other people do not want to live with them and move away. Once they are the majority, they take control and nobody can stop them. They generally then are not quite as accommodating to the other people who are now in the minority. They will make the local pool only separate swimming and refuse requests to kep a few hours of mixed. they will close more roads, or the whole neighborhood, for shabbos. they will take over the school buildings and shuls.

A haredi neighborhood being taken over by others is actually pretty rare, as it generally happens the other way.

Now that it is happening to them, they cannot take it. They put up rude and hurtful signs like the one above. If such arguments were used against them in other neighborhoods, they would fight back saying they paid for their apartments just like everybody else. they have rights like everybody else. It is a democracy and they can live wherever they want.

It is when they feel threatened that the truth comes out... Let's see how they respond when the arguments are made to them....

Jonathan Rosenblum wrote an article in his column this past week questioning the methods used when taking over a neighborhood by Haredim. He gives examples of how they slowly take control claiming rights when they are the minority and then refuse to provide those same rights and considerations to others once they are the majority. Part of it is based in an element of "religious coercion".

But considering the methods used, Rosenblum suggests, it is no wonder that there are other situations in which the Haredi requests are rejected by the local populace, as they know what it will eventually lead to.

Rosenblum says he does not know the answer to the question if these methods are appropriate or even desired. He adds that our actions should however take into consideration the effect they will have on the impression left and the influence upon the non-religious public. He quotes the Hazon Ish who held that nowadays the rule of "Moridin V'ain Ma'alin" (you can throw a heretic into a pit to die and not remove him if you already find him there) does not apply nowadays in a time of Hashem's presence being hidden. By implementing such halacha, the Hazon Ish says, we would cause more damage than good as it will be perceived as an act of cruelty. The goal of the law in that case was to protect the wall of mitzva fealty, but nowadays it would just cause more breaches.

Similarly, the Hazon Ish held that we are allowed to call up to the Torah people who openly desecrate shabbos, despite the halacha saying otherwise. He explained that the purpose in rejecting these people and not allowing them to be called to the Torah was to protect shabbos and be a sort of rebuke that would urge them to keep shabbos, as they would feel as if they are out of the community, beyond the pale as it may be. Nowadays where the desecrators are the majority, rejecting them will not be perceived in the way it was meant to be, rather would only cause more hatred.

So, when the Haredim take over a neighborhood using methods that are at best questionable and at worst against halacha, against morality and against social norms, they should not be surprised when those methods are used against them.

But even worse is when they feel they have everything coming to them, then they feel they have the right to act like this in other neighborhoods but they reject those that try to move into their own neighborhoods, as happened in the letter at the top of this post.

10 comments:

  1. I am from that area and its scary to hear this. In my building is a nice mix and davka because its a mix, no one seems to have the "upper hand" on anyone else.

    However I did notice recently that they changed bus 15a into a mehadrin bus. Wow. I am so nervous.

    (partially because I know I don't look 'eastern european shtetl -like and so I know i'll be one of the first to take the brunt of whatever they want to throw out! yes, I know what some readers are thinking, its not like that. Hey, I have learned hate =hate)

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  2. you live in Givat Shaul? We lived there for a year when we first got married..... it is a very yerushalmi/haredi neighborhood. Though the top of the neighborhood is more mixed as it gets closer to Kiryat Moshe...

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  3. Thank you - this is something that needs being said. Now it just needs to be said where the people most closely involved will read it.

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  4. Hareidim and Hardalim live in peace in Givat Shaul. I believe that the pashkevil came about because they want to build a building for Beit Sefer Noam near Migdalei Shaul. It really does not fit in with the neighborhood.

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  5. cx - what do you mean it does "not" fit in? If the community wants it, then it does fit in! The fact is that many chareidi schools and shules were built, without fitting in and people didn't put up these notices blasting their "chumra" and "yehoora'dika" ways.

    If people can get the funds together and they request that product, then it fits and maynbe the "old gaurd" should either accept it or move on. Obviously change is on the way.

    And please do not come back and argue, "well, if they want a porn shop - should they get it too"? one is knegged halacha and one isn't.

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  6. Wow. Reading this is an eye opener. I can't even imagine what would happen if fundamentalist christians began behaving this way in the U.S.

    Why is it not illegal for the Hardim to do this (take over whole towns and impose their religious beliefs on everyone else)?

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  7. maybe it is technically illegal, but I think by the time they move in at that level and take over, I think most of the residents who might otherwise sue, have already moved out..

    Maybe there have been cases in court. I remember hearing about it. Usually regarding road closings or local stores being shut down... but offhand I do not remember any specifics.

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  8. B"H "They" maybe moving into into the neighborhood, for the same reason I want to: It's frumer thatn most datti leumi neighborhoods. Mixed education? I don't know of any d"l's in G. Sha'ul who want mixed education. No'am Boys's is in G. Sha'ul already. (Granted, it's got to get rid of its female teachers, but in all fairness, there aren't enough men who want to teach limudei hol or even in lower grades at all.) Some send their kids to Morasha, also in the neighborhood. There are also other Talmudei Torah in the area or in Bayit veGan. not so far away.

    There is that one last bashion of mamlachti idiocy. It's called B'nei Aqiva, and the snif is on Ben-Tzion by the Emunah building.

    the Ariel youth group was founded by none other thatn Merkaz students who didn't think that BA was frum enough for their kids.

    I'm reaally surprised by this notice. I'm wondering if there worrid more about the seriously religious datti leuminiqs, than the hafifniqs, because the serious ones are actually knowledgeable and have Torah reasoning behind their ideology (whether others agree with it or not is not the point), and simply do not tout silly mamlachti phrases.

    Those Haredim behind the posters do not want their kids influenced by those who are actually knowledgeable.

    They shoud worry, though, the REAL religious datti leumi tpes aren't so enthusiastic about army service, it's that's a concern.

    Glad to hear the 15a is mehadrin. It's about time!

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  9. Wow. And important post.

    Can you please post a link to Jonathan Rosenblum's column?

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  10. MR - I did not see the article online. I saw it in a newspaper (th eold fashioned paper based type).

    However, RHM found it online and linked to it here

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