Dec 8, 2006

back of the bus

I did not write the following letter. It was written and sent out to some mailing lists by the woman it happened to. I will not comment on the story, as even if it is slightly exaggerated (and I do not know if it is or is not), it still leaves one with nothing to say...
(I first saw it posted at Dov Bear where there is a raging debate in the comments... thensaw it on some other sites as well)

I have removed the letter based on information presented to me in the comments that show that the woman involved in the story has no credibility and is well known to make up stories to discredit people. I will try to verify the information.

UPDATE: While I found it very difficult to confirm this story one way or the other Jonathan Rosenblum does confirm the story. At least in the general sense that it happened more or less as stated in the letter, not getting into the details. Jonathan Rosenblum is a man of integrity and I am sure him posting such a story goes against his grain, due to his being an apologist for the Haredi community most of the time. I also happen to know Jonathan Rosenblum and his brother and know him (and his brother) to be a man of honesty and integrity (though I knew him a long time ago before he became famous so he probably does not remember me). If Jonathan Rosenblum confirms the story that is good enough for me.

That being said, the anonymous commenter wrote to me offline and gae me details of himself and the author of the letter. While generally she might be or might not be unreliable, this time she is at least generally reliable (even if it turns out she exaggerated the details of the story).

Therefore, since my goal is not to malign her, nor anybody else, just to publicize and comment on the news, I am now reposting the letter, since we now know it happened.

For the past 5 weeks, I have been waking up at 3:50 a.m. to catch the # 2 bus out of Har Nof to the Kotel. I enjoy davening by the neitz at the Kotel HaKatan in the Moslem quarter. It is peaceful, quiet, and yes, even though I am totally alone - it IS safe. I have never been bothered by the Arabs there in that area.

On several occasions, both men and women have stopped by my seat and asked me to move to the back of the bus. I have politely - and firmly - refused this "invitation". This is not a Mehadrin bus and there are no signs indicating that it is. It is, rather, the arbitrary decision reached without due process by a group that claims it is "the majority" to render the # 2 bus a Mehadrin bus. I checked with Egged - it is not.
After a few weeks, other women decided that they, too, do not enjoy sitting in the back and sat down next to me or behind me. These women were verbally bullied by the other passengers to move to the back. All of them caved. However, 1 woman who had been literally picked up by 2 other women and moved to the back of the bus, came back a few days later, took a seat behind me and adamantly refused to move when beckoned to move to the back. Another woman later sat next to her but moved when other women loudly demanded that she moved. In the meantime, they were leaving me alone and I became somewhat confident that they would continue to leave me alone.
But . . . .Last Friday morning, November 24th, I took my makom kavua on the bus and did my usual thing of just looking out the window. A few stops later, a man who is regularly on this bus, stopped at my seat and said, "I want to sit here. Please move to the back of the bus". I smiled and said, "I'm sorry, I'm not moving but there are 2 seats in front of me, 1 across the aisle - you can sit there". He refused and demanded MY seat.
I was somewhat amused at this childish and arrogant behavior but told him again, politely and quietly, that I am not moving and that if he really, really wants to sit here, he could even sit in the empty seat next to me. But - I'm not moving. This man stared at me for about 10 straight seconds and then spat in my face. Without missing a beat, I jumped up, called him a son-of-a-bitch, and spat back at him. This brought screams from the women calling me a crazy woman. He responded to my response with a push in the face and a punch to the breasts that sent me flying on to the floor. I jumped up and punched him back. At this point, no fewer than 4 other men jumped up - not to defend ME - but to ATTACK me by punching, hitting, slapping, and kicking me to the floor. I was fighting back the whole time but was no match for 4 men in such cramped quarters. I finally got enough aim to kick one man in the privates and he went limping back to his seat in unmistakable agony. (Yes, I DO smile every time I think about it in the aftermath).
But, in the meantime, the "holy" man sat in my seat and had discarded my bag onto the middle of the aisle. I went after him again, demanding my seat back. He spat at me which evoked the same response from me. My snood had come off my head during this scuffle so I knelt down to the floor to find it and the "holy" man kicked me in the face. The kick was so strong that the dirty outline of his shoe could be seen on my right cheek. Within a short amount of time my cheek began to swell and it took no less that 4 Ibuprofens over Shabbos to keep the swelling and the pain down. At the time of the kick, however, I felt no pain - only rage, equally distributed between the Chillul Hashem and the perversion of what some of these Chareidim call "kedusha".

I kicked him back, grabbed his black hat and threw it down the aisle. It was handed back up to him but I grabbed it again, turned it upside down and spat into it. It was grabbed from me and I yelled that he would not get his hat back until I got my snood back. Someone passed up a knitted beret, I said "Todah", and put it on my head. I went back to demanding my seat back but he stared straight ahead, refusing to move. He was being protected by one particular man who held both poles between the seats to block my access.By this time you are most likely asking:
What was the bus driver doing during all this? What about the other passengers? Answer: NOTHING!!!! Other than 4 men protecting him by beating, kicking, punching, slapping me - not one person on the bus came to my assistance. In fact, the women were screaming at me that this was MY fault because "you don't know your place, you stupid American". The wheels on the bus kept rolling along as the bus driver never once stopped the bus or got on his PA to demand order.HOWEVER - almost immediately after the initial spitting, kicking, and punching, 2 men - both secular and whom I've never seen on that bus before - got on the bus with 2 large video cameras and filmed the "activities".
While catching my breath and regaining my strength, I looked around at me and saw men sitting there with their noses in their siddurim as if a woman being beaten and kicked was normal. I began yelling at them: "Is this the Chareidi way of life??? How can you sit there with your noses in your siddurim while a Jewish woman is being beaten and kicked and spat in the face??? Do you think your tefillahs are being answered while you sit there and DO NOTHING????!!! Your tefillahs are being flushed bittul - how can you stand before the Ribbono Shel Olam at the Kotel this morning and expect that Hashem will hear you???? What is wrong with you people???"

And then, I turned to the women: "And - you women! - you let a Jewish woman be treated this way and you say and do NOTHING - ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING! - to help her? Last week it was your trash cans they burned, soon it will be your homes and then it will be you. These men will treat you worse than the Arabs treat their wives and daughters - You are MAKING A HUGE MISTAKE!!! What are you worried about - that if you speak up your daughter won't get a shidduch??? Well - you've perverted the whole thing. If you are wiling to condone this then you will get everything you deserve. You are just as bad as this rasha is!" I then told all of them - men and women - that they could take their Torah learning and their tefillahs and flush them down the toilet because they have learned NOTHING - ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING - and they are a perversion to everything that is kadosh.

Note: During the entire time I was being blocked in the human cage of 4 men, these holy men were pressed against every part of my body. I taunted them asking - "Ah - so this is more tzniut than me sitting there? Or is this really what you all wanted?" One of them actually replied: "Yes, this is more tzniut".As we approached the Old City, I whispered to one of the camera men to get me the police. As one of them attempted to get off, he was blocked by the men and several of the men yelled at him in Hebrew to not get the police. He backed away.

However, when we got off the bus, I attempted to stay with the "holy man" who was cowardly trying to avoid me. I began yelling at the top of my lungs for the police, ran through security and a soldier and police man came and detained him. At this point a bunch of women came up to the police and the soldier and loudly started telling them that this was all my fault, that I had started it by refusing to move to the back of the bus. (Yes, I know, the Kafkaesque nature of it does not elude me either). However, the police and the soldier weren't buying it and demanded that this man wait while they went to get a supervisor.

While waiting, an American woman came up to me and calmly asked me, "Why is it so important to you to sit there? We are the majority - we have decided that we want a separate seating bus." I calmly responded: "Why is it so important to you that I NOT sit there? And who says you are the majority? If you are, then why not use the 2 choices available to you: 1) Petition Egged to make this a Mehadrin bus, or 2) Get your own private hasa'a. But until you succeed in doing either, this is a public bus and anybody can sit wherever they want. Now, let me ask you, is there really more kedusha in men beating, kicking, and spitting at a woman because she won't give up her seat?" She never responded, she just looked down, shrugged, and walked away.

While waiting for the supervisor, several of the "holy" man's friends surrounded him and quickly ran with him escorting him to the tunnel in the men's section of the Kotel. I would not go into the men's section of the Kotel so I waited there mistakenly thinking he had to go out from where he went in. I later learned that one can escape into the Moslem quarter via an exit. This was apparently what he did as the police came back and could not find him. In the meantime, the men with the video cameras showed the film to the police.

And then, one brave soul . . . . .One of the men on the bus came up to me while I was standing with the police and said he would like to help me. He was thoroughly disgusted by what happened and he had witnessed the entire series of events. This man gave the police his name and phone number and offered to be a witness. He said he could not get up to help me because he was blocked by the men beating me and he was sure they would have all ganged up on him, too. Perhaps this is why the bus driver did not stop. I don't know. But, the bus driver did not summon the police at the Kotel, either. Yes - he was wearing a kippa, the black velvet kind.The witness offered to get me a doctor as my face was red and starting to swell but I declined his kind offer and wished him a good Shabbos. The police advised me to make a report at the Old City Police Station (Kishlei) inside Sha'ar Yaffo which I did at 9 a.m. with the commander, Yoram.
And, Sunday morning, November 26 I was back on the # 2 bus in my makom kavua. Curiously missing was the "holy" man and his defenders. And nobody asked me to go to the back of the bus.

Miriam Shear

P.S. I have sent an email to Egged filing a formal complaint. I am asking that the # 2 bus not be granted Mehadrin status as I feel that this privilege has been nullified by the actions and inactions of the # 2 passengers. And YES - you may print this, post it on your web site, forward it, do with it as you please. Covering up what we are afraid will be a Chillul Hashem will not rein in such evil - only exposure. Violence against one's fellow Jews should have a very, very heavy cost until it is no longer "acceptable".


  1. Good for her, and for the man who will testify.

  2. I find it appalling that such behavior could take place in the name of my beautiful religion.

  3. while the letter raises a number of questions regarding some of the details that sound very questionable, overall even if the letter is exaggerated and only partly true, there is still no excuse for that type of behavior, no matter how machmir you want to be.

  4. Rafi,

    I believe I know you from Telz [painter?] and I'm shocked that you'd post this nonsense. Miriam Schear is very well known in certain circles - speak to anyone from Detroit where she has a long history of disseminating blatantly false and misleading email letters. She brought an entire city down to its kness with machlokes and prompted the Chabad rabbi who converted her to comment that "he missed the boat on this one."
    To print this is blatant Lashon Harrah on a klal and I'm surprised that you'd fall for this.

  5. anon - sounds like you know me, but I do not know who you are because you posted anonymously.

    I was not aware that she is so disreputable as you say. I am aware that she is a member of the JDL and very outspoken and stubborn. That being said, her attitude has no bearing on the reaction to her sitting in the front of the bus.

    I have read a lot fo material about this story, and your comment is the first time I am reading that it is possible she made the whole thing up and she cannot be trusted. The most I have seen questioned is if all the details are accurate or possibly exaggerated to some extent.

    feel free to drop me a line at israeli.jew at gmail dot com and let me know who you are, being that you are an old friend...

  6. Rafi - I know you very well. I don't ever post on blogs and only made an exception in this one case because I truly cannot believe that you [Dovbear - sure - he'll post anything that'll make Chareidim look bad as will most bloggers] would post this. Hilchos Lashon Harrah mandate far more proof than an email from a character who is known to be disreputable. The fact that other blogs haven't picked up on this is no proof to naything. The majority of DB's commenters are people who detest Chareidim virulently and so it goes on most blogs. This is no secret and it is the number one reason why I don't frequent them. Someone forwarded this to me because we are both very familar with MS and her modus operandi and therefore I posted.
    Believe it or not - her story is 90% fabrication guaranteed! The ten percent is to allow for the fact that there is such a things a kosel and bus and egged etc.
    Miriam Schear for those who don't know is on her third marriage and is despised in every community she has ever lived in. Her method of being motzi laaz on anyone whom she has an issue with is similarly well know. Check those facts and then decide whether you have a right to publish this gross slander.

  7. anonymous - in deference to what you are telling me, I am going to trust you (even though I do not know who you are - please email me and let me know, and because you seem to know me) I am going to remove the letter. I am going to try to verify the information (both the story and what you have told me) one way or the other and then decide what to do based on what I find, if anything..

  8. Rafi,

    I am surprised that you pulled down the post.

    1st of all, anon is wrong on the issue. It is not considered loshon hara for numerous reasons; ie:as an educational example with no names; as a public story akin to a newspaper.

    2nd, Anon posts alot of personal info about this lady with nothing to back it up and no info on who he is. Talk about Loshon Hara, talk about the pot calling the kettle black. For example,(one of many n hiscomments) he states that she is on her 3rd marriage. There are so many reasons as to why that may be, and he lays it out there as proof of his presentation of her.

    3rd, I personally contacted egged and relayed this information and have yet to recieve a response, either confirming or denying. I did this the moment I read the post.

    4th it is not "gross slander" as anon states. You posted with clear disclaimers.

    5th, Anon speaks about people "hating charedim." which has somuch to do with many of these types of issues. People don't hate charedim. Pointing out hypocrisy or law breaking is not "hating charedim." Perhaps anon is one of those who supported the riots in support of the charedi baby killer, after all, the police just hate charedim.

    My point here is this. The charedi community is like any other community of people with all the same issues: murder, rape, abuse,assault, drugs etc... One difference is that the community is so closed off that victims can rarely get effective help and wrong doers are often protected.

    That is why publicly speaking out on these issues is important.

  9. Dan - I pulled it down because I myself saw some inconsistencies in the story to begin with. After anonymous told me about her reputation, I felt the story should be verified, and her reputation should be verified. There have been no reports n any of the media, secular, religious, settler or any other type mentioning the story. The only verification has been her own letter. That alone is troubling, as a story like this, if true, would normally make it to the press who are known in their zeal in publicizing stories that show religious jews in a bad light. The fact that this story has been making the rounds for nearly a week and had had absolutely no external verification and is still solely based on her word makes the story suspicious.
    That does not mean it is not true. But it needs to be verified. Maybe she made it up maybe not. I will try to verify it. If I find she is not lying, even if she exaggerated some of the details, I will put it back up. If I find she is lying (or if I can verify to the best of my ability that she is a known fabricator of stories and I cannot find any information verifiying the story) I will keep it down and issue an apology.
    That is, what I think, the responsible way to approach such a story.

    The debate on the community of Haredim and their actions is legitimate, and as you know despite my being part of that community (more or less) I have no reservations pointing out its deficiencies. However when it is based on a story that is completely fabricated (I am not saying it is, but it is a possibility that needs to be checked) and everyone assumes it is true, that debate is more harmful than good, as it makes assumptions that are not true and the logic presented in the arguments is based on falsehoods and what-ifs.

  10. rafi - I agree with your pulling the letter, it should be verified. at the same time danny is absolutely correct. This anon is goofy. He posts unverified loshon horah about the woman in questionyet does so anonymously. he rants about chareidi haters and such. to me, he sounds like the virulent chareidi defenders, who'll say anything to defend any action some wacko who happens to hide behind a chareidi disguise takes.

    as much as the letter needs verifying, so does this anon!

  11. anon - I am finding different Miriam Shear's living in different places, such as Jerusalem, Miami and Toronto (and you added Detroit). If you could write to me offline and give me some info so i can try to track her down I would appreciate it.

    As well, how do you know this Miriam Shear is the same one as the one you are familiar with? if there is more than one how do you know it is the same one? Or maybe she just moves around a lot?

  12. Rafi, Dan, and Shaya,

    It's the very same Miriam. She has moved around a lot and now lives in Har Nof. Keep on checking your facts and you'll see that I know what I'm talking about.

    Dan G. - You really need to brush up on Hilchos Lashon Harrah. Stating disclaimers does nothing to mitigate the Lashon Harrah factors. Furthermore, referring to the the true nature of this woman who has a long history of slandering communities and individuals [that too is a well-known and verifiable fact and if I had an interest in proving it I could send you four emails that would prove it but I don't] is not Lashon Harrah. Writing things about the terrible "Hareidim" the way she has and continues to with no purpose other than to besmirch the whole bunch of them is Lashon Harrah.

    Much as you folks would like the deny the existence of Hareidi hatred it won't fly. Read the comments on DovBear's board and make that claim with a straight face.

    Rafi - the reason I posted is not to undo the damage of this ridiculous story. If that was my point I'd have gone to a blog that has more than five readers. I addressed you because I knew you to be a Ben Torah who knew better than to post unverified Lashon Harrah.

  13. anon - thanks for the boost... actually I have more than 5 readers. I get about 100 unique hits a day (nothing close to what DovBear gets), but only 5 or so of them comment. Hey guys, stop lurking and start commenting!!! lol.
    Anyways, the damage cannot be undone,as it is all over the place. That being said, you are just one voice against hers. I took it down because after you commented I realized it does need to be verified before posting such a story. However, that is keeping in mind that you are also just an anonymous commenter slandering an individual. You have not told me who you are. All I know is that you learned in Telshe and know me. That means I give you the benefit of the doubt, but there are plenty of people I know (and some from Telshe) that I would not trust if they told me it is raining outside, so while I am not ready to say the story is completely made up (I felt from the beginning that at best it is highly exaggerated), I am willing to say it needs to be verified.

    On that note, I am finding it difficult to verify. Anybody whp has already verified it has only done so by contacting Miriam Shear and confirming it with her. There has not yet been external verification (except for one or two anonymous comments on other sites who say they verified it without giving details of how), so as time goes on and nobody hears any more of the story other than the original letter, it seems more and mroe likely that it is less and less true.

  14. Anon,

    your posts become more revealing.

    Did you even read my comment?

    I did not say disclaimers mitigate loshon hara. I was pretty clear on the issue so I wonder where you got lost. I said discliamers mitigate slander. I said the lack of names and the publicity of the press mitigate loshon hara.

    I also love how you could prove what you are saying but can't be bothered. Honestly, I need to know, do you really believe that anyone ANYONE can read that without laughing out loud? All the while continuing to knock this lady's charachter. Seriously, you really really wrote that you could prove it if you had an interest in proving it but you don't so you won't.

    You post anonymously, bring no evidence of anything, and make flimsy accusations (like having 3 marriages). You must be a telsher.

    Certainly your posts feel awhole lot angrier then the letter from the lady.

    Maybe the lady's letter was not entirely true, I read Rafi's blog and accepted the disclaimer. Your posts however did absolutely zip to convince me of anything other then your own intellectual dishonesty and perhaps emotional instability.

  15. rafi - according to cross-currents the story is verified and true. here's the link:

    as well, after reading his verification, he makes it seem like she is a real learned women, not the monster anon made her out to be.

  16. anon

    I agree there are many chareidi haters out there. When a goldmeier is posting though, we have been brought up to hate the sin not the sinner. I know for myself and from rafi's own disclaimers, we could not care less what group a person belongs to. If a frum jew acts like a jerk, that's all we are talking about. We are not stereotyping and blaming his "group".

    also, her story has been verified to be true acc to cross-currents. That said, your estimation of being 90% not true raises doubts as to your own legitimacy concerning your bias. As much as you obviously hate chareidi bashers, you are guilty of bashing the opposite. If her story is true, it seems that you have some anger issues towards her to deal with and an apology to us all.

  17. Shaya,

    I agree with you mostly; some of us embrace the sin as well.

    I wonder when/if Rafi will put the origonal post back up.

  18. danny

    actually, this issue has been beaten (hahahaha) to death on so many other blogs, it isn't worth it. It's a better discussion as to who this anon is who is ok with his loshin hora but not ours.


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