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Dec 15, 2008

violence in Bet Shemesh on the upswing

There has been an increase in violence again in bet Shemesh, with a couple of recent incidents. That leads to the following guest post - Menachem wrote it better than I could, so I asked him if I could guest post it....

A Guest Post by Menachem

Below is an important letter about recent horrific events that occurred in Beit Shemesh. The young rabbi who wrote it has been at the forefront of trying to peacefully solve the issues between the Dati Leumi neighborhood in the Givat Shaaret neighborhood (Sheinfeld and Nofei Aviv) and our neighbors in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet. He has met with their "Rav" and leader, set up lines of communication to deal with issues as they arise, and even arranged a project where the people in the DL neighborhood gave Shaloch Manot to our neighbors.

I'm giving you this background so that you'll understand that the person who wrote this letter is not given histrionics on this issue.

This is a very said time for us here in Beit Shemesh. You all have to realize that we are not dealing with some small insignificant fringe, the numbers below put the lie to that. We are dealing with a systemic problem in the Chareidi world that is spreading like a cancer. The more the chareidim make political advances like they did here in Beit Shemesh, the more they will be emboldened to behave in the manner described below.

If you consider yourself "chareidi" and this offends you, I'm sorry, but the massive silence on the part of the greater Chareidi community toward this behavior has made all chareidim accomplices to this terroristic activity.

This cancer must be eradicated. Preferably by isolating it and cutting it off from its source, but if that can't be done then more drastic means will be necessary. We are talking about nothing less than the heart and soul of Yiddishkeit.

We here in Beit Shemesh WILL react to this and we hope all good, decent Jews will join us.



Dear Friends,

I am sorry to report that there has been a recent surge in violent activity in the neighborhood.

1)Last Friday night some boys and girls were sitting together on the steps from Gad to Herzog and were confronted by some gold garbed hasidim. It was all verbal and related to "we don't do this in our neighborhood." But, of course, what is now verbal can quickly escalate to more as you will see in the next item.

2)This past Friday night things went to a much worse level. Three properly dressed girls were walking from Sheinfeld to RBS at around 9:30p.m. They were not making any kind of noise or drawing attention to themselves. After they past the bridge and began making their way up the hill they were confronted by many men - it began at like 20 and swelled to close to 50. The men were yelling that they should get out of their neighborhood. Two managed to run away but one was caught. They grabbed her, threw her to the ground, and kicked and beat her. A boy from our neighborhood was walking on the other side of the street and ran over to try to help. They beat him as well and he was told that if they saw him there again they "would kill him." Thank G-d, neither had to be hospitalized despite their bruises and scratches and thank G-d a chareidi family in the neighborhood called for them to run to them for shelter which they did.

I assume you are as enraged and as shaken as I am and we cannot remain quiet. The question becomes what to do. There are political options (I don't think it is a coincidence that these events happened on the heels of the new Mayor taking power and these people feeling they now can do as they please), police related options, press related options, and I am sure there are other ideas which some of you might have.


  1. Any official word on this? Has it been reported to the police? What has the new mayor to say about this?

  2. The version I heard (i.e., read on the list) was that it was a mixed group that split up.

    Actually, I'm more concerned about the recent reports of violence from black (skinned) Ethiopians than from black (hatted) Chareidim, but that's just me.

    What is obvious is that it's related to the new Mayor, but I honestly feel that if Shalom Lerner would have been elected, we would have seen worse (so that they can negotiate from a position of strength; this is more just testing to see where the lines are).

  3. Somebody might want to inform these hooligans that they were mechallel shabbos b'farhesya. Perhaps, somehow in their minds they think that they can justify the physical harm, but I don't know how they would justify the chillul shabbos. For the physical harm they caused, they may
    actually be exempt in beis din, because of keem lei bederabba meenai, since they transgressed a prohibition (chillul shabbos) which carries a chiyuv s'kila.

    These people are dangerous and need to be stopped with whatever means necessary.

  4. I hope that the purim presents weren't home cooked; they'd be thrown out without a second thought.

    You're dealing with people who only understand strength., Presents to these people is like releasing prisoners for Hamas. You are only encouraging more violence.

    I'm an outsider, (I live in Efrat) but it is clear to me that at the minimum you have to cut them off from any support, you must live your lives the way you want and if anyone interferes then don't back down.

  5. I agree Ben, but when they made the attempts, they thought that they could learn to cooperate and live together peacefully. At least the attempts were made in good faith (from one side definitely)

  6. Shaul,

    The police are actively investigating the incident. Due to pressure from our community there will be a meeting with our reps, the mayor, and the police chief.

    There will also be a press release going out.


    The person who wrote the letter has spoken to the victim and her parents, so I would say it's more accurate than what you've read on the list.


    The point we need to get across is that these are not "hooligans". That word implies some wayward teens who have nothing better to do. These are fathers and husbands; regular folk in the community following through on their well thought out ideology. An ideology which does not include the concept of "Eilu, V'eilu"

  7. Not all 'Chareidim' are to blame, and its a mistake to generalize and categorize people based on what happens in the street. Look at the family that helped to save those girls. If you are unable to stop them, how do you think peace loving Chareidi Families are going to do it?

    Anyhow, I suggest that we do away with the definition "Chareidi" and lets make a difference between the "Torah Observant Jews" and those that keep "Frumkeit" or "Yiddishkeit" or are "Chareidim"

    What I mean is that today there are a whole bunch of new religions that don't keep what is says in the Torah, but rather subscribe to these irrelevent terms. The time is coming where Hashem will weed out those who don't keep his Torah, even if they have the externalities of being 'frum'.

  8. to all the residents of Sheinfeld and Nofei Aviv - WE don't negotiate with terrorists. Haven't you learnt anything from Israel's failed policies? I can't believe you thought you could mollify this extremist ideology with some purim baskets. You are too nice and are living in the world of western values. These pple don't live in your world, stop trying to explain away their behavior.

    To paraphrase a 'great American' - 'the only thing that brings lasting peace is war'- Sean Hannity.

    The only language these barbarians understand is force. So please put them in their place.

  9. well said Anon. Americans all have baseball bats and they should start using them!!!

  10. I'm really upset. I promised myself that I would never give tzedakah to these elements who come to my door on a semi regular business. If we are not good enough for other things, then our money is not good enough either. Also, I don' want to support their actions in any way.

    Lo and behold the week of the Mumbai Massacre, at the height of the shock and grief, someone shows up at my door in RBS A and tells me a whole song and dance about feeding the poor (making sure to include all areas of Bet Shemesh in his presentation although based on how he was dressed it was quite obvious he was collecting for Bet).

    Anyhow, I felt really bad and was really upset so I decided to give a donation in memory of the victims (kind of in honor of Rav Teitelbaum).

    Now, after reading this, I am so angry and so disgusted. I can't believe it. This guy was also dressed in the gold bekesha and how do I know he wasn't one of these crazies?

    I feel very used.

  11. Any official report of this story? It seems to be making its way around the blogs but no newspapers seems to have picked it up.

  12. newspapers are not interested in a bit of a local violence, unless it ends in death..

    I am sure the local BS papers will have it this Friday

  13. To those of you who were at the debate between the Mayor and Shalom Lerner:

    I remind you that when the question of the violence came up the (now) mayor said that it has been "blown out of proportion" (ie there isn't really such violence).
    This is in line with his attitude last year when he wanted to placate them.

    He is our mayor and we must support him but we must also remember where he is "holding" on this issue.

  14. I don't recall him saying there was no violence; I recall him saying that it's blown out of proportion.

    You know what? Statistically, (and so far), he's right.

    Compare black (hat) violence to black (skin) Ethiopian violence or the general problem of crime in some neighborhoods in (O)BS, and in terms of numbers of victims, this is quite a small issue.

    OTOH, it represents a serious sociological problem (in terms of the tacit support), and, as has been seen in the past and in other cities, can easily turn into a major problem.

    As I said before, I strongly believe that this latest incident has nothing to do with the girl(s) in question, and is a political tactic. The response, therefore, I believe must be equally political and well considered; I hope our mayor is up to the task (our last one certainly was not).

  15. Mike Miller,

    Your comment about the kanoim-crime being statistically insignificant seriously misses the point. We are talking about terror, not crime. When it comes to terror, it doesn't matter how much there is -- a little bit is enough to accomplish its goals.
    Compare road accidents to suicide bombers. More people were killed in on Israeli highways than in downtown Jerusalem -- but people didn't stop driving. They did stop going downtown for about five years. Even today, the area hasn't recovered.

    Once you understand that we are dealing with terrorism, the frequency of the attacks is irrelevant.

    Even more so that this is rabbinically backed terrorism, by the rabbis of the Edah Hacharedis: Kopshitz, Rosenberger, et al.

  16. Yanky, well said

  17. Sorry Mike, you're off base on this. Yanky said it very well and I must second the thought that this is terror and not "crime".

    I would also add that the issues of crime in Beit Shemesh are sociological and economic. Thus they are solvable and will be reduced over time. The issue of Chareidi terror is ideological and it's growing at least as fast as Chareidi demographics.

    Also, because of the nature of the beast, the police are much more reticent to get involved in the Chareidi violence for fear of exacerbating it. With the regular crime those within the communities involved welcome police intervention.

    Further the Chareidi issue is affecting all of clal Yisrael both here and in the diaspora. However, here in Israel especially, the damage they are and will do to the fabric of our society will be nothing short of catastrophic if not checked.

  18. I heard a small piece of good news this morning, which I hope is true. Apparently one of the Kanoyish families is moving out of the Herzog apartments because they can no longer stand living so close to the "Zionists".

    One down and ....

  19. Actually, I fully recognize that this is an attempt to terrorize a population (which is what I was referring to when I described it as political in nature).

    Generally, terrorism is not dealt with by the police; more precisely, the police do not use standard tactics in these cases. The response cannot simply be to arrest the perpetrators, as such a technique simply results in 5000 people in jail (most for protesting those arrested for protesting those arrested for etc). Instead, other tactics have to be used (whether they be sanctions, random beatings, or dialogue (or other "extreme" measures by some local citizens (although that meeting appears to have been delayed)).

    I don't recall enough of the context from Abutbul's comment to remember if he was asked about the social problem or the specific instances. I'm awaiting his response to this...

  20. Mike, I live in the Sheinfeld neighbohood of Beit Shemesh. I would have no hesitation in walking by a gathering of a large number of Ethiopian Jews - in fact I have. There is no threat emanating from them. OTOH, for years I have felt very hesitant about walking through RB"S "Beit" -- and at this point I plain wouldn't do it, except as part of a large group.
    BTW, whether it was a mixed group that split up or a separate group of girls walking on their own is irrelevant. It's still legal in this country for boys and girls to walk together, and last time I checked RBS "Beit" was sytill part of the State of Israel, even if most of the residents there would prefer it wasn't.

  21. OTOH, for years I have felt very hesitant about walking through RB"S "Beit" -- and at this point I plain wouldn't do it, except as part of a large group.

    Eliyahu, I don't blame you, but you see that this once again shows that terror pays. :(

  22. And I too live near Bet (in Aleph), although I have to say, I've never been apprehensive about walking through Bet (although I dislike it for other reasons). I too have no issues walking near a group of grown men of either Ethiopian, Russian, or any other nationality (Israeli, even...) who populate our city.

    My comment regarding the details was simply a comment vis-a-vis the situation and the reports I'd read, and certainly not one that was intended in any way to justify what apparently happened.

    And Menachem, of course these tactics work. They've been used by Chareidim, they've been used by Arabs, and they've been used by Chilonim. I even seem to recall a post about "terror" tactics being used against a Kadima supporter in our fair town. That's just the way things work :(

  23. Mike,

    So you got the bit about terror versus regular crime.

    But you didn't notice the other issue that I mentioned, which distinguishes the kanoim from the chilonim who intimidate (I must confess, I don't know what the story about Kadima is).

    I wrote that the kanoim, unlike the chilonim, have a religious ideology that supports their corrupted midos. Moreover, they have corrupt rabbis that give legitimacy to their views. Look at Rabbi Kopshitz -- he is completly behind all of this, yet he is not shunned by the community.

  24. you have the problems because this people only take, don't give ... and that is because Israel has stupidly allowed people who could earn a useful living (and for that matter do some army) to sit around and do "sod all" everyday ...

    believe me, a short sharp kick up the arse - with army service and no more social security handouts ... problems over within a year

  25. No Yanky, I got that too; which is (yet another) reason why the solution does not lie with the police, but with the mayor. Davka _because_ of the ideological issue here (even if in many cases, it's just an excuse for their criminal actions), techniques like arresting the perpetrators or having a police car drive by once an hour isn't going to solve anything.

    So besides for the more active proposals I've seen, such as beating random chareidim, door to door distribution of pornography and other sexually explicit matter, and inviting Tommy Lapid (ok, that one seems to no longer be feasible), what's your proposal?

  26. Mike,

    I think that the first step in combating the problem is awareness as to its nature and roots. Moreover, people have to realize that the violence in RBSB is connected to the problems going on in RBSA with Rabbis Goldstein and Kornfeld, who are connected to Kopshitz and his friends.

    The political and rabbinic base of the majority of moderate charedim in RBSA must be strengthened.


  27. Another possibility that may be a little naive, but I'll put it out there:

    Rav Moshe Shternbuch is an English speaker, and from having met him in person a couple of times, he seems a reasonable person to talk to. I heard directly from him that most of the pashkevillim that go up in his name he never sees or hears of before they are published. Now while he may not have control over people publishing things in his name unauthorized, he may at least have the ability to instruct people to publish something in his name that is authorized. I would hope that he would be as upset by the charedi thugs as we are... maybe he would consider lending his name to some pashkevillim decrying violence and intimidation against fellow Jews? He is a very big name in Charedi circles, and his name up there in lights, laying down the law of what kind of gehinnom awaits those who raise a hand against their fellow Jews, might convince at least a few of the biryonim themselves to cool it, and a few of the doublethinkers to be more openly and actively anti-violence within their own community.

    I have his phone number, and he answers his own phone (no askanim getting in the way). I personally do not have the time to make an appointment with him to go and discuss this, but if anyone else is willing to do it, please contact me offline - sbehr.at.sabreton.com

  28. Yanky,

    Are you suggesting that R' Goldstein and R' Kornfeld represent an extremist element in RBS-A that is not representative of the majority (or at least a plurality) of Chareidim? Are you saying that there's a silent majority here who do not agree with those two?

    Who, if anyone, represents this majority? R' Malinowitz? R' Soloveitchik? R' Perlstein? R' Haber?

    As much as I'd like the answer to be yes, I just don't see it at this point :'(

  29. Mike,

    Rabbis Malinowitz, Shapira, Horowitz, Zwecker, Haber, Yaavetz, Myers, Soloveitchik, Kirshbaum and the list goes on.

    Perlstein is a story on his own. Since he is not under Kopshitz, I categorize him as a separate entity.

  30. That last comment was mine.


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