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Mar 11, 2009

partying Jerusalem style

Purim in Bet Shemesh over the years has taken on a very similar flavor to that of Purim in Jerusalem. The place is hopping.
There are Purim parties all over the place. Loud Purim music blaring into the streets. People dancing in the streets. Groups of boys from different Yeshiva going around the neighborhood singing and dancing raising funds for the yeshivas. Drunk revelers stumbling through the streets. Parties spilling out into the streets. etc.

We had the opportunity to be for a short time yesterday in Beiter Ilit. The "City of Torah and Hassidus in the Judean Hills".

We entered Beitar - another city I would think would have a similar flavor to Jerusalem (usually cities with a large number of Jerusalem expatriates take on a similar flavor) - and all was quiet. The roads were empty. People were out and about delivering shalachmanos, and whatever, but no serious reveling outside of the houses.

Our friends in Beitar who we visited (a few families) all told us that the city of Beitar has had some serious trouble in the past with "ארחי פרחי" - Archeeee Parcheee - troubled teenagers, usually of sfardic persuasion (not that ashkenazy teens are not troubled, but in Beitar it seems most of the archee are sfardim) who fight, steal, vandalize and make a lot of trouble. So these kids congregate, harass people, light heavy firecrackers in dangerous places including in crowded shuls, etc.

So they told us that the police cracked down on them this year. They sent a bunch of police cars last night and cleared the streets. They warned everybody that if they were caught hanging around outside they would be arrested. I am told they even arrested a whole bunch. Clearting the treets though also means other people would not really be reveling in the streets (otherwise it is difficult to keep the problem kids out).

So basically it meant the city was kept clean and quiet.

And while it was quiet in Beitar, in Bet Shemesh we party, Jerusalem style! Way to go Bet Shemesh!


  1. Sorry, Rafi, I have to disagree. I have never been as terrified that I was going to hit someone as I was driving through RBS-A on Purim. I was shocked by some of the things I witnessed -- a baton-juggling "ballerina" blocking traffic in the street on Nachal Sorek, drunken yeshiva boys jumping in and out of a moving car. My 12-year-old daughter went for a walk with a friend during seudah and was so nervous about passing a bunch of drunken guys that she called me on her cellphone to escort her back.

    I find nothing to be proud of in the behavior displayed in RBS-A yesterday.

  2. that is part of the craziness of Purim...go to Jerusalem today if you want to see it magnified by 1000

  3. This was my first purim here in RBS and in fact in Israel in general. I had heard lots of things (not the least of which was bring a raincoat and with a brand new never been worn coat I was excited for a "gurenteed" time to wear it!) and much of it I really loved. It was a whole version of the chag I had never seen.

    But there were scary places here. On dolev by lachish our (rented!) car was attacked by some big babies who were scary drunk. My husband rolled up the window and refused to give them anything as they were really and truly being obnoxious and scarring my daughter. They started kicking and punching the car.

    There was another spot where *kids* (really, like 12 years old) were deliberately playing chicken on the road and trying to kiss passing cars.

  4. Oh, and I saw the juggling ballerina, but when I saw him he was on a sidewalk and rather amusing... I guess I saw him earlier in the day :)

  5. when people are drunk, obviously their behavior will be far from perfect....but nobody is maliciously hurting people (not that that excuses those who dont control themselves and end up hurting people, but there is still a difference).
    And it is a different style of partying than you will see in other places. That was really my point.

  6. You're always going to find some crazy drunken Yeshiva bochurim on Purim.

    What bothered me the most was the way seemingly sober grown-up adults had forgotten all rules of road safety when driving around to deliver Mishloach Manot.

  7. See, that is the thing, most people we saw were happy drunk. These guys were mean. And really scary. They were actively trying to scare my 5 year old. And there were loads of people seeing it, seeing us try to pull around, seeing them hitting the car, and not doing anything.

    there is having fun and then there is using it as an excuse to behave very badly. This was the latter.

  8. you forgot the report of the police planting stink bombs at major intersections in Beitar....

  9. Rafi,

    I love Purim in RBS - it reminds me of why I choose to live in this particular neighborhood - the Chag really comes to life. I had a great time yesterday and enjoyed a couple of drinks.

    Maybe I just did not give it much thought in previous years, but yesterday I was really bothered by something: the gangs of yeshiva guys being bussed into RBS from Yerushalayim by their yeshivot, to roam, “work the neighborhood”, collect and, usually drink.

    By the Seuda time , we had been visited many, many times by different groups, all dancing with much kavana (all good so far), all collecting for worthy causes (their yeshiva – I was happy to give), but many (not all) were smelling of drink, if not visibly drunk, tottering, on the floor - more so as the day went on.

    So get this: These guys are only just legal, yet the Yeshivot are bussing them in, to 'work' RBS, and at best tolerating, at worst encouraging their drinking. I even discovered that one Yeshiva actually put on a 'sober bus' and a 'drunk bus' for the return trip - presumably so that they would only need to pay to clean the vomit from one of the two buses afterward. Seriously!

    Bear in mind, that yesterday was not Purim for these guys (they are Yerushalmim for Purim) – so please don’t tell me “oh, didn’t you know, Chayav Inush etc). I will add that I am no puritan, but I do believe that we all have a responsibility regarding responsible alcohol consumption, individually and communally.

    Put aside the terrible example this sets for younger kids.
    IMHO, these yeshivot are guilty, big time, of not setting firm rules here vis a vis drink, - yes, even on Purim and therefore contributing to the ‘kids at risk’ problem that we hear so much about in communities such as ours. Maybe I should have contributed instead to Hakshiva (www.hakshiva.com) instead and cut out the ‘middle man’.

    I am interested to hear if other RBS residents share these thoughts or not.

  10. Vic - if only the parents knew what the kids were doing when they send them to Israel....

  11. I actually had a group come by us that did their thing and then said "we are from yeshiva x, but we are not collecting for the yeshiva. We are collecting for a widow and orphan that don't have parnassah.." I gave them a little more than what I gave the other groups....

  12. Victor,

    I disagree with you about giving to all of the yeshiva guys.
    While it is commendable to give tzedaka on Purim it should really go to the poor and in particular the poor of OUR community.
    B''H we have local organizations such as Lemaán Achai and 2 Kupas (up the hill and down the hill).

    Every shekel given to outside sources takes away from local organizations who are taxed as it is.

    In regard to the drinking..I heard that Lemaán Achai had a wonderful pre Purim lecture about teenage drinking for parents and rebbeim/teachers.

    I'm sorry I missed it.

    Perhaps more rabbeim and parents should attend such programs.

  13. once on the topic of responsible drinking, I find it strange that the Kupa based their Purim fundraising campaign around a bottle of Absolut Vodka....
    how irresponsible is that?

  14. rafi - underage drinking - although in Israel that might be under 10 - and drunk driving are not impressive. The rabbis here have been working hard to train/teach the kehillah here to drink responsibly on Purim. As one rav said - shikur ad d'lo yodah, NOT shikur as a goy!

  15. RBSAforAll - Certainy agree with you on the priority of local tzedakot.

  16. Sounds like yet another reason not to choose to live in RBS.

  17. am not impressed. driving through RBS was dangerous and sent a very bad message to my kids. Also, the teenagers were very rude and and had no respect for the adults trying to drive through the streets in a responsible manner.

    Today in Har Nof, my husband and I witnessed a car full of teenagers driving with another teenager on THE WINDSHIELD & HOOD of the car, just laughing hysterically! And they were heading out of Har Nof into a highly traffic area.


  18. anyone who says it's a chillul hashem that the bochurim get drunk on purim is obviously not in the yeshivas the next day - regular learning as if nothing different happened yesterday. that's the biggest Kiddush Hashem I can think of, when people do a mitzva like this, and it doesn't affect the rest of their Avodas Hashem

  19. Anonymous -- you've completely missed the point.

    First, the real test is who benches after the seudah and davens maariv, not who can come to learn (or work...) the next day.

    More importantly, regardless of what they do the day after, there is no denying that some of what went on is completely assur. No ifs, ands, or buts.

  20. Mike - I think by most of the yeshiva bochurim nothing "assur" was going on. I thin the ones who get out of hand are the exception.

  21. Rafi G: Agreed.

    That said, the few bad apples were enough that I saw at least a few "issues" every hour.

  22. I guess you live more in the center of where the craziness was than I do, so you must have seen much more than I did....


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