Dec 28, 2010

Which Is Worse - Secular Anti-Haredi Discrimination Or Haredi Anti-Haredi Discrimination?

There was a fascinating article in this past week's Mishpacha Magazine (Hebrew edition). The article was about a family, baalei teshuva, who have been thrown out of their house twice already and are now being evicted for a third time. And the reason is because of anti-haredi discrimination.

To be brief, the Becher family of Ramot HaSharon have been discriminated against by the local residents simply because they have become Haredi. And they are not strangers to Ramot HaSharon, as Mrs. Becher is a fourth generation member of the yishuv. Her great grandfather was one of the founders, as much of the town was built on his land. Her grandparents lived there as did her parents. They did as well before spending time away, and now they wish to move back.

The Bechers are now being evicted from their third house, as the locals pressure the owners to evict them and try to find every way to make their lives difficult, filing complaints against the minyan they started and the like.

The discrimination is really troubling, and their story was a bit wrenching, and fascinating at the same time.

Besides for the point of the article, which was that the anti-haredi discrimination happens fairly regularly around the country yet nobody stands up against it the way they stood up against the Rabbis letter about not renting to Arabs and other similar anti-Arab discrimination, there was another point that was mentioned in passing that bothered me.

At the end of the article describing the situation, the author interviewed Mr. Becher about what is going on, asking a few questions. The first question asked was what does he need this for? Why continue fighting to stay in Ramot HaSharon? Why not just pack up and move to one of the many haredi neighborhoods or cities?

Becher answered that the haredi community is very not accepting of baalei tshuva. Even if they could move to Bnei Braq or the like and succeed in acclimating, their students they have developed over the years who would follow them would not succeed in a haredi area because they would be rejected by the schools and community. The interviewer then moved on to some other questions.

Do you get it? In the same article describing how the anti-haredi discrimination is so bad, they mention in passing that the haredi community discriminates against these haredim as well. How can you get so upset about secular anti-haredi discrimination when the haredi anti-haredi discrimination is just as bad, or worse (because in such a community these people would expect to be welcomed, rather than isolated)?


  1. I'll take this a step further.

    While unacceptable the secular discrimination can be understood. Your becoming charedi means that our food, dress,transportation, sport, etc is no longer acceptable. You will stay in our neighborhood and strive to make changes that infringe on our lives.

    The charedi discrimination is unfathomable. It simply says that you're charedi..but not good enough for us.

    We FFB are better than you, have a more true mesorah, etc.

    Just think in our own wonderful city of RBS of how much Charedi anti-charedi bashing there is.

    Certain schools aren't "charedi" enough.
    Certain tzedakos aren't "charedi" enough (unless it is to give money).
    Certain mikvaos aren't "charedi" enough.

    And the nauseating list continues.

    One day these holier than thou will face the reality that HaShem doesn't consider them "Jewish or Torahdik" enough because of their silly outlooks to be part of His society!

  2. Can someone please tell the Bechers that they can be frum, ehrlich, G-d fearing Jews and not be charedi!

  3. Humans discriminate. That's just a fact. Yes, even in the US, neighborhoods are often fairly homogeneous. Even in large cities, where the city as a whole is very integrated, there are often sub-neighborhoods. And people can be pretty mean about keeping their neighborhoods "pure".

    However, Western man is also a bit hypocritical in their behavior. I think that people would have just as vociferously objected to a public/national edict against renting/selling to Chareidim as they did to the Rabbis' edict.

    I'm sure most of the people that objected to the Rabbis' edict don't want Arabs living next door to them. Likewise, the Chareidi community might go ballistic about the way this family is being treated, yet many, as individuals wouldn't want them living next door or have their kids in their schools.

    It's not a defense, more just a description of human nature well captured by the acronym, NIMBY. (Not In My Back Yard). Naively, I believe that being Torah Jews should teach us to be better than this, yet somehow it often makes us worse.

  4. Sickening - I understand secular anti-charedi discrimination, and I understand haredi anti-secular discrimination. I dont like either, but I understand where it comes from.

    As you say, the haredi anti-haredi is far worse.

    anonymous - from his picture, he looked to have become connected to some form of Breslav. Baalei Tshuva often become similar to the group they became frum with. He can choose how to live his life how he wants. he wants to be haredi, breslav, or whatever, that is fine with me.

  5. FWIW, I think there are charedi neighborhoods that are more BT friendly than others. BB is extreme.

  6. When you make big changes in your life, sometimes you don't "fit in" for a long time. Sometimes even for your entire life. And sometimes even for a generation or two, and your grandchildren may fit in.

  7. As troubling as the subject can be, two points jump out at me:

    A) Becher refers to his "students", implying that he has started some form of group, cult, etc. This despite his being fairly newcome to Torah and mitzvos.

    B) You noted in your last reply, Rafi, that Becher looks Breslav. Ergo, he is not just haredi, or baal teshuva, but a born-again Breslav, which (yes, I'm generalizing) has some cult-like excesses in some of its adherents.

    There have recently been a number of strange cults popping up, usually surrounding some baal teshuva, some of them very, very warped, if not monstrous. For examples, the "Taliban" ladies in RBS, or that child abuse cult. I don't think it coincidence that these cults form around "ba'alei teshuva" who reach some strange interpretations of yiddishkeit and gather a following.

    Perhaps that is what stands behind the implied attitude of rank-and-file haredim against Becher. In general, the haredi leadership does everything it can to stamp out these cults, sometimes not so nicely. Even if this is only because they represent a split from the mainstream, one can clearly understand their suspicions, generalized though they may be.

  8. I dont remember the article talking about breslav so it was just a guess.

    He has some sort of school for young women, and I think a small yeshiva of as well. Both are baalei tshuva under his and his wife's influence.
    He sounded pretty normal in the article and not cult-like, but I guess it is possible.


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