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Jan 21, 2008

The letter I sent to Haredi MKs about Bet Shemesh violence

The following is a letter I wrote and emailed to the Haredi Members of Knesset, Rabbis Meir Porush, Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Litzman.

Feel free to copy and paste or write your own and send letters to them demanding they find a way to get involved.... Their email addresses are:

Shalom U'Vracha!
I live in Bet Shemesh. To be precise I live in Ramat Bet Shemesh A. I have lived here for nearly 9 years and even though there have been some issues in RBS A over the years, overall I must say it is a wonderful neighborhood and community.

RBS B has a community of kannoim that came from yerushalayim. They have spent their time making life miserable for all the residents of bet Shemesh, but especially for the residents of Ramat bet Shemesh both and A and B, but especially B. They have been violent, they have been abusive, they have been hostile, they have been provocative.

They moved into a city with a very mixed and diverse population and have been attempting, violently, to impose their ways on the rest of the residents. Their lifestyle is legitimate and I do not wish to deny them the right to live with their own Rabbonim with their own preferences. I do oppose their desire to force the rest of the community to live by their standards. Their standard claim of "We paid good money for our apartments and we deserve to live by our beliefs" holds no water. I also paid good money for my apartment. My neighbor paid good money for his apartment. The neighbor of the kannoi paid good money for his apartment.

We moved to a city that has diversity and most residents from varying backgrounds live together peacefully. The kannoim also moved to a city, bet Shemesh, that is diverse. they are welcome here like anybody else. Yet they choose to not live peacefully side by side with the rest of us. They choose to impose their lifestyle on the rest of us. I firmly reject that. If they cannot live peacefully with us, they should have moved to a place that only has their type of people.

That being said, I wonder why we have yet to hear from the Haredi leadership denouncing these people and their methods. The Rabbonim are quiet and the politicians are quiet. You find all sorts of benign and insignificant issues to be concerned about, yet the lifestyles of thousands of baalei batim and bnei torah that are being destroyed on a daily basis seems to give you no reason to speak out.

I request that you and your partners in the Haredi parties find a way to speak out against this phenomenon and against these people. I request to see you get involved in trying to find solutions to the conflict. When a makolet owned by a Haredi man in Lod was recently under fire, you ran to Lod to stand up for him. Why do we not see you in Bet Shemesh standing up for thousands of your voters?

You might respond that these people do not, generally, vote in elections. they have nothing to do with Degel Ha'Torah or Agudas Yisrael and you have no sway over them. Therefore your speaking out is a waste of time. There is no way you can get involved, as they reject your authority, you will say.

I remind you that in bet Shemesh there is a local party running under the banner of "Gimmel" made up of members of Degel and Aguda. These representatives, of your parties, have very publicly been announcing recently, on numerous occasions, in the local press, all the assistance they have been giving to the members of that community. Assistance that comprises funding, land for their institutions, future consideration in political arrangements, and more.

That means that not only have you not spoken out against these people and their actions, not only have you not fulfilled the basic responsibility of leadership and gotten involved in trying to find ways to protect your electorate and residents of Haredi neighborhoods, but you also have been providing them with assistance.

if you do not have it in you to speak out against them, at least stop helping them.

I do also wish to point out that in Bet Shemesh this is an election year. Municipal elections are coming up in about 10 months. A lot of your natural voters are disturbed by this and disenfranchised by the assistance provided by "gimmel" to these people and the lack of involvement by your people against these people. I think it would be prudent (putting it lightly), if you wish to have people voting for your local Bet Shemesh party along with voting for your party in future national elections, to speak out against the thugs who attack your constituents and get involved in finding solutions. Otherwise your voters will look to others for solutions and Gimmel will only have the kannoim to turn to, and we know they do not vote in the elections.

With blessings,
Raphael Gxxxxxxxx


  1. Excellent example of taking action... good for you, man.

  2. don't forget - shteekka k'hoda'ah

  3. guts? it takes guts to send an email to a public representative with a complaint?

  4. I don't think these guys understand too much English. I think we'd all be interested to hear if you get any response at all.
    BTW - how do these guys have e-mail access, I thought it was all assur!?

  5. Rafi,
    Once again you've done a great service on behalf of our community!

    There is something else that we can do right here in RBS.

    A great Rav once said that in Europe the Rabbanim that controlled the community services (like the mikva,tomchei shabbos, tzedaka, etc) had control over the entire city.

    We have seen in Betar that there is a "Vaad" who decides who can live there and who can not. Is RBS next?

    Our community has many organizations that do good work. But who controls them? If we allow the Rabbonim who are "less tolerant" control the new mikve on Dolev, Tzedaka organizations, Kiruv, etc. they will ultimatley have the say in whom and how people get help.

    By empowering organizations who rely on such Rabbonim we will be the ones who change the face of RBS and not for the better.

    Let us band together and support the schools, shuls and organizations that are there for everyone and improve our city.

  6. I would like to hear the daath Torah of the Rabbonim who supervise the local RBS tzedakah organizations. Their public comments will determine where my tzedakah goes.

  7. as far as I know, the local RBS tzedaka only supports local RBS A residents. I do not know that for sure though.
    Next time a rep from th ekupa comes to your door, you can ask them

  8. To the best of my knowledge Lema'an Achai was the only organization to address the issue during the summer violence.

    Their Ahavas Chinam poster was a loud and clear message.

    I personally began to support them more after that.

  9. Were these the same types that broke up the boys choir concert due to mixed/family seating?

  10. The ones who broke up the choir (and injured people in the fray) were under the direct command of the Mora D'Asra of RBSA.

    This Mora D'Asra is also the Rav of our mikveh (and wants control of the new one), the Rav of Kupa Shel Tzedaka RBSA and the rav of 2 large shuls. I have also seen his name associated with Hakshiva.

    As I said..when we support the organizations of these people we are giving them more power and control to shape RBSA as they see fit.

    Let's show these thugs that we won't be bullied or terrorized.

  11. technically they are not the same. the question is whether by not speaking out against these ones, those ones support them or not

  12. Good for you Rafi and very well said!

    And as a side note, I can't help but ask if right now don't all Jews have bigger and better (some would argue even existential) battles to fight than perpetrating violence on each other?

  13. Rbsforall-
    It's not that bad.The "Mora D'Osra" doesn't control the organizations that you think.

    Definitely , definitely, not Hakshiva(R'Kornfeld is most involved I think).

    And not the Kupa either. A Kupa rep told me that they humor him because they get more done than antagonizing him over some kavod.

    The mikva is more of a problem though.I don't care what he does in his shuls.

    Personally, I hope that if he ever tried to use his control to exclude others, that the people of the organizations wouldn't stand for it.

    Solly G.

  14. Anon,

    While I appreciate where you are coming from I must say that I attended the Kupa Melave Malka where he was a keynote speaker. People should also know that the Mora D'asra was a founder of the Kupa. It's not just a matter of Kavod...he has a major voice.
    It is also because that people are afraid of him that he has the control. The mikve wouldn't even be an issue if other rabbonim here would stand up to his rhetoric.

    You may think that he is simply a voice of unreason. However there are enough people in RBSA who listen to him that people have been hurt and organizations/schools, etc have been slandered.

  15. Kol Hakavod Rafi! Thank you!

  16. Miz- you'd think, wouldn't you??

    dafneighbor - I considered that they would not understand the letter, but I figured to type it up in hebrew would take about 3 days (my english typing is slow because of my hunt and peck skills, but in Hebrew it is slower than a snail) and I would never have the patience to finish it....

    I figure they get all that money for assistants and public relations people, they must have one or two that speak english who can read it to them.

    Don't worry - if I get a response I will be sure to post it. Just don't hold your breath waiting for one.

    Didn't you read in all the Haredi press a few weeks ago that the rabbonim have permitted internet access (with restrictions, but they permitted it)


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