Aug 29, 2011

Extremism Is Taking Over In Bet Shemesh

I am inviting readers and others who are familiar with this issue, from either perspective, to write in to me at israeli.jew at gmail dot com and submit a guest post on the OROT school building fight issue. I do not promise every submission will be posted, nor that posts will not be edited. Thoughtful posts, especially with unique perspectives, will be most highly considered.

A Guest Post by Shoshanna Jaskoll

For anyone who knows me, they will know that this is incredibly painful for me to write. As most of us, we moved to Eretz Yisroel to be together with other Jews in our land. By far, the hardest thing for us to deal with has been the awful conflict between groups of Jews. Thats why living in Bet Shemesh has been so difficult. The fights are endless and nauseating. Fights about Tzedakah organizations with severe Lashon Hara being thrown around. Fights about Mikvaot. Fights about schools, land, housing. Ridiculous 20ft signs proclaiming TZNIUS. Its just out of control.

We were in the US these past few weeks and many things were lovely. But, one of the nicest was that people said Good Shabbas to me. men, women- everyone. and you know whats sad? I was shocked. So long have I lived in a place where my neighbors don't even acknowledge me at the entrance that a good shabbas from a man (gasp!) shocked me.

All of these things are related. All of them are happening here. Extremism is taking over. I am against no one except those who are against those not like themselves and who persecute them through intimidation, violence and bullying . If we do not oppose this, if we do not wake up and say NO loudly and clearly, we will either end up being run out or being an incredibly persecuted minority. and there will be no one to blame but ourselves.

Please join us at 6:30 to say no to extremist takeover of our values, city and lives and yes to living together in tolerance.


  1. Shoshana I think you are quite naive.
    Read Raf's next post - evidently according to the City - Shaale Torah is illegally occupying the building. There is more than 1 side to a story.
    Dont believe everything you hear.

  2. Shoshanna, it isn't that way everywhere. I lived in central Yerushalaim for almost 7 years and almost everyone said Shabbat Shalom to each other. Except perhaps for a few Charedim every now and then. I lived in central Petach Tikvah and it was the same, everyone said shabbat shalom to each other regularly. Even my Charedi neighbors who lived right across the way always greeted us warmly (and we also greatly enjoyed hearing their family loudly sing zemirot every shabbat!)

    As a kid I lived in Haifa for a while and spent a lot of time in Nahariya with various relatives, and everyone said shabbat shalom to each other regularly. And I mean everyone, regardless of level of religious observance.

    I worked in Tel Aviv for almost 10 years and every Thursday night when leaving the office everyone said shabbat shalom to each other. Even out office atheist who was more anti-religion than anyone I've ever met since. Almost every cab driver says shabbat shalom, the guy that filled up my car with gas said shabbat shalom, the bus drivers said shabbat shalom. Heck, that is one of the things I miss most about living in Israel.

    I can only conclude that perhaps what you are looking for (friendly "shabbat shalom"-saying place) can't be found in a Charedi city*. It's sad, but it appears to be a fact. Most Charedim insist on living an insular life, and they define insular rather strictly.

    * "Charedi city" defined as a place that has 30+% and rising Charedi population. And is thus on a trajectory of being Charedi-controlled as time goes by (due to much faster population faster growth).

  3. Gav-

    thanks for your insights and assumptions.

  4. Mark-

    and in the end we are asking for even less. just a little tolerance.

  5. Sure. That's all anyone is asking. But our "tolerance" conflicts with their "insularity" because they define insularity rather broadly. There are tons of examples, from separate seating buses to not having a girls school in their neighborhood (or bordering their neighborhood).

  6. Shoshanna, I just wanted to say thank you for posting. Regardless of what comes to light in this issue, or whether religious bullying/coersion is to be "expected", to actually be embroiled in these conflicts is depressing and demoralizing, not to mention infuriating (especially for someone who comes to Israel in a spirit of achdut). And it's ok to express that - I think it reflects what a lot of people are feeling. I hope we can leverage those feelings to produce some positive action.

  7. Meir-

    Thanks. and Id like to say that on the other hand, seeing all those ppl together last night from black hat (there were a few) to tank top all together was a nice sign of achdut against the fridge nuttiness.

    Kol Tuv


  8. Shoshana,

    I am sad to say this because of the topic however..excellent post!

    You mentioned tzedaka organizations in your piece. Of all of the "fights" this one to me is the sickest.

    Agree or not perhaps one can see the concern about tzniut dress, perhaps one can see issues of kashrus, schools,etc.

    Tzedaka organizations?

    Our community is blessed with great organizations that mamash help in many ways.Yet we all know that there one superb organization that is treated poorly by a large section of the community.

    Lema'an Achai helps so many regardless of their affiliation yet when it comes to helping them all of a sudden there are "problems".

    These problems don't come from issues with the organization but rather from certain rabbonim and leaders who have their own agenda.

    I know for a fact that Lema'an Achai has close rabbinic supervision from some of the greatest rabbonim in rbs. Morris and Leventhal are tzadikim for what they do for our city.

    I'm sad to say that I know people who refuse to donate only because their friend, neighbor etc tells them not to and for no good reason. I challenge everyone reading this to visit Lema'an Achai, see what they do and talk to the people who run it.

    My rav is a very strong supporter of Lema'an Achai and he is very involved. He also, however, allows other organizations to collect in my shul and hang their posters. Why can't other rabbonim act in a similar way?

    We just finished the 3 weeks and have entered Elul. If we can't recognize and support chesed and tzedaka I am afraid, C''V of the consequences could be.

    The violence and intolerance that we are seeing with Orot doesn't start in a vacuum. It comes from the lack of respect of other Jews.

  9. All I can say is I couldn't stomach this kind of fighting on a regular basis. I think there are many great communities in Israel and I wouldn't stick around such a community if I couldn't guarantee the basic safety of my daughters while they attend publicly mandated schooling.

    Why doesn't the DL community get together and bring a bagatz against the city for failing to provide appropriate police protection?


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