Dec 14, 2009

Guest Post: My son was run over on Shabbos

A Guest Post by Akiva from RBS

I apologize for ranting in public. This message is extremely unlikely to reach it's intended audience. Yet I cry out in the hope it may make a slight difference somewhere.

I am an American charedi. I've lived in RBS-A for 2 years, the first year of which I lived in the most charedi part.

During that time I watched on several occasions where crowds of charedi youth confronted drivers who passed through Rechov Sorek on Shabbat. When they began confronting a police car one Shabbos night, it was too much for me and I confronted them. Facing a crowd of 15 young men, I backed them down on the nerve to confront emergency services who's response could make a life or death difference to the community.

Certainly there was some cultural naivety' on my part.

As we've been here longer, and my son's have spent some Shabbosim in Jerusalem where there are Shabbos confrontations weekly, and as we've moved up the hill in RBS-A, I've worked to offset the "Shabbos fight" mindset and respect my less religious or non-religious neighbors. Never a negative word, never allowing a shout or even a thought of a shout of "Shabbos" as cars drive by.

This Shabbos, at ~4:00 PM in the afternoon, my son was standing by the bus stop on Rechov Sorek. He was standing on the yellow dotted line that marks the bus pull-in area. Not "in" the street, but not on the sidewalk. Sorek runs through the core charedi area of RBS-A, anyone who wants to drive on Shabbos without antagonizing the religious community does not do so on Sorek. (They go up Alaylon, which is faster anyway.)

Anyway, on this Shabbos at ~4:00 PM, a gold colored sedan with a bald male driver came flying down Sorek. On seeing my son, he intentionally swerved to hit him. As he did so, he pointed and laughed to the female adult passenger sitting next to him. He jerked away at the last moment, brushing my son with his car rather than killing him. Barely. Intentionally.

If you happen to know this person, I'd love the information to be able to file a police report. And if you do but don't wish to share the information, just let him know that next time these boys want to shout Shabbos or may be persuaded to pick up a rock by the charedi crowd, he's given them cause to do so.



  1. Akiva,

    What happened to your son is a travesty. i must argue, however, with your closing line.

    Perhaps this guy in the car took a "pot shot" at your son becuase of the violence directed at him in the past.

    Nothing excuses the reckless driving of this obviously sick man but nothing excuses the wanton attacks against the tinukei shnishbeh who don't know any better when driving on Shabbos.

  2. agree with anon. And why can you not file a police report? Your son was hurt by a hit and run driver. Why do you need more info to file a report.

    Two wrongs don't make a right.

  3. Pretty revolting.

    For your son's safety, though, regular rules for the street (e.g. crossing at crosswalks, no playing in the street) should apply also on Shabbos.

  4. ??? is this info from your own eyes or your sons? why is there no police report or other witnesses? this sounds like one of the many stories kids come home with. he actually saw all those details and related them to you? at 10 years old?

    Sorry, i jst don't believe that a driver would attempt to sideswipe a young boy alone at a bus stop. an adult, maybe, not a boy. it's out of my realm of belief.

    refuah shelaimah to your son, and if it's true, i hope you find a way to catch the person and mete out punishment.

  5. Shaya g makes a good point. It definitely could be exaggerated.

  6. Detail forgot to mention - opposite the new Bar Kol grocery store.

    - Multiple children were present reporting the details, that matched. The observers, not the victim, had the details such as driver and passenger and response.

    Police report? Why bother? The primary local police department function seems to be giving out unwarranted traffic tickets. For items they can immediately respond to, they do. Things that require investigation (such as a car theft or home burglary), they seem highly reluctant to even take the info - after you've trudged down to the station.

    Besides it was Shabbos, not right in front home - by the time the report came in the driver was long gone. No license plate captured.

    And no serious injury was received, just a bump and a serious fright. I can't see the police, given previous responses to events, bothering to pay attention to such. No blood no foul as it were.

    As far as not believing it, so don't believe it.

  7. My heart goes out to you and your son. B"H he was not seriously injured by this lunatic. But I do have two points that I want to relay.

    1) By the description given, this man was in fact "a lunatic". Just as 99.9% of charedim aren't going to throw rocks or attack people on buses, 99.9% of chilonim that drive on shabbos aren't doing it to be inflammatory. This guy was crazy and should not be used as an excuse to now condone the yelling at cars. If you want to teach your son to "fix the problem" of people driving on Shabbat, continue to promote kiruv and good relations between himself and chilonim.

    2) By not reporting the incident, you have added to the problem. I know our police force is fairly inept, but the more calls they get of this nature, the more likely they are to wake up and smell the coffee. If you report the incident and they do nothing, then their incompetence is on their head, not yours. Chas v'shalom this guy does this again and actually seriously injures someone, there will be your previous report there to say, "look, this guy has behaved this way before and the police didn't do anything about it. Now look what happened..."

    You can't take for granted that your report won't keep the police's eye out for this guy. What if your report wasn't the first and they are gathering information about him? If you don't report it and it happens again and your report isn't there to show this man is crazy, then it is partially your fault that he wasn't sought out in the first place. You don't want that on your head.

    Yes, we know the police here are fairly incompetent, but we definitely aren't going to help them get any better if we don't report incidents that happen to us. In fact, we're just increasing their cluelessness and inactivity.

  8. lorien's remarks are on the mark.. This should reported. It *might* not do anything. But It certainly *may*.

    Not reporting will *certainly* do nothing.

    Does anybody know what can be done if indeed one goes to this police in an instance like this and is not recieved properly?

    Is there is any authority that can force the police to do thier jobs? (please do not answer mevaker medina)

  9. If there are witnesses, then kol hakavod.

    as far as not reporting it, that's irresponsible. Even on shabbos it would be muttar to report as the driver is a rotzayach and a sakans l'rabim. At minimum you have a chiyuv to report it, regardless of the ineptitude of the police.

    either way, I hold this driver in the same regard as all fanatics, they're lunatics who should be jailed and given treatment.

    refuah to your son

  10. LorienBalofsky and Hobbes are the only sensible comments here. The laws of gravity don't change because you 'say' they do; the onus of responsibility is to do the "correct thing" in this situation. The more reports of such 'attempted manslaughter of a child' that are given to the local police, it will have to sink in sooner or later that they need to be on the lookout for this lunatic. It could turn out more disastrous for the next 'victim' of the driver's craziness. What if the tires weren't good, or the steering wheel malfunctions? A report needs to be made, if just to put them on notice.

  11. shaya g doesn't believe it can happen.

    Well, I can say the same thing happened to me 18 years ago in Romema in Jerusalem - though he didn't actully make contact with me.

    Denying reality won't change it.


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