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Jul 29, 2009

Why do they hate us?

The Haredi press, and community in general, is up in arms, rightfully so I might add, about two facts.
  1. a poll was recently published in which it was found that 51% of the secular/general public (I do not remember the exact wording but I think it was "secular") do not want a haredi neighbor.
  2. A complex in Kiryat HaYovel owned by the Hebrew University was up for sale. The tenders were in and finalized, and it looked like a haredi group was going to win the tender. Hebrew U., supposedly under pressure due to the high tensions in Kiryat HaYovel, canceled the tender so as to avoid selling the complex to a haredi group.
I would first of all be impressed that only 51% of secular do not want to live near haredim, considering all the recent negative press the haredi community has received. So they should look at it as an accomplishment of sorts.

Second, Instead of decrying the anti-haredi sentiments among the secular public and being upset about the fact that they dislike us, perhaps they should attempt to analyze what about us they dislike and try to improve.

Yes, some might not like us for reasons we can do nothing about, such as the general hatred of am haaretz to a talmid chochom, but I think most people do not want to live near haredim for other reasons. Another possible reason would be we make them feel uncomfortable, guilty perhaps, because they know they should be living a more religious lifestyle, and we remind them of that even if just by our appearance. But, again, I think that is not the problem for most people.

I think the problem for most people is that they are afraid of their neighborhood turning into a war zone. Suddenly streets will be closed for shabbos. Suddenly every time something is done that the haredi neighbors do not like, garbage will be burned and traffic lights will be torn down.

True, most haredim are not like that. However, very few secular know the differences between the groups within Haredi Jewry. They see the animals of Mea She'arim and RBS B rioting and are afraid that that is what their neighborhood will become.

We can thank the Eida HaChareidis, who backed the recent protests in Meah She'arim, and continue to back the parking lot protests (though it is unclear how connected they were to the violence in the protests, though they did not condemn it) along with all their previous history of protests, violence and extremism, for influencing the rest of the haredim in a negative way.

Is it fair? No, it is not. If you look in a mixed neighborhood, almost all the residents are happy with the variety and are friendly with people from all communities within. RBS A is a good example of this. Aside from a few nutcases who think they are part of the Eida and have to push extreme views on other people, 99.9% of the residents are happy, are friendly with their neighbors including neighbors who are in the "other" group. The fighting, as can be seen now in the planning of RBS C/G/3, is mostly because people are afraid the elements of RBS B might affect it somehow.

R' Shlomo Pappenheim of the Eidah Haredis council, in a recent interview, suggested very similarly. He is against holding protests over every little problem, though most in the Eida disagree with his opinion. He said the Eida protests cause people to hate religion.

So, thank you Eida Haredis for that.


  1. I have to say, I am offended at you referring to anyone chiloni as an am ha'aretz.

    I don't think that was necessary.

  2. I said "some" and I said most are not like that. but, as an aside, the more extreme haredi element will write it off and say "they hate us because gemara says am haaretz hates talmid chochom.

  3. Is Shlomo Poppenheim related to Shmuel Poppenheim?

    Remember this:

    "The mayor here thinks that if he removes the modesty plaques, more secular people will come," said Shmuel Haim Popenheim, spokesman of the haredi community, who lives in Beit Shemesh. "But he does not understand that every time the media reports burning trash cans and people being arrested, it keeps the secular people away for another 10 years.


    Popenheim responded: "The secular people must understand, they either lock up early or they'll have trouble."

    From http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3421011,00.html [but it was in Chadash too...]

  4. I think the problem for most people is that they are afraid of their neighborhood turning into a war zone.
    wadr i suspect the causes are much deeper (e.g societal- such as resources being used and participation in idf; local-e.g. will they tell me how to dress )

    it would be an interesting follow on study.

    She-nir'eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu

    joel rich

  5. Shlomo is his grandfather.
    The interview was a fascinating one, published in this past weeks hebrew mishpacha mag. he went completely against basic eida opinion, and now is dealing with some fallout because of it. The haredi websites are reporting the eida had a council meeting about what he said and they are considering tossing him from the council. He supposedly issued an apology/clarification, etc. It is making some waves.

  6. The survey should have asked the other side of the question: how many dati people (of whatever stripe) would want a secular neighbor (you know the guy who has a barbeque on his front lawn on Shabbat). What do you think those results would be?

    When Beitar opens itself to non-chareidi people, I'll start to have sympathy for those folks who couldn't buy that property in Qiryat Yovel

  7. The 2nd Bais haMikdosh was necherav for sinas chinom.

    my group, your group, his group, dai kvar; haven't we had enough of this 2000 year, tortuous shiur?

  8. What do you expect? Chareidi culture defines itself as perfect. It also says that perfection should be valued.
    This has the dual effect of removing any responsiblity for the damage their actions cause from them and for their inability to understand why they are so hated. After all, if they're perfect, then the riots are legitimate. If they're perfect, then chilonim should love them. Why doesn't that happen? They haven't a clue.

  9. i agree with MRSRBS, why does someone not chareidi become an am haaretz, and why does someone chareidi become a Talmid chochom?

    Your premise on that thought is misworded at best.

  10. JOEL RICH:

    "and participation in idf"

    there are hilonim who don't serve. does anyone refuse to have them as neighbors? it may be an extreme, but see http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1248277915988&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull


    i was thinking the same thing like ben waxman. in a poll, how many haredim would answer that they don't want a hiloni neighbor.

  11. MrsRBS:

    "I am offended at you referring to anyone chiloni as an am ha'aretz."

    in a recent survey most hilonim admit that they are עמי הארץ

    see http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1248277914749&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

  12. there are hilonim who don't serve. does anyone refuse to have them as neighbors?

    Lion-that was an e.g., it's the total picture of which this is a part.

    She-nir'eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu

    Joel Rich

  13. i was thinking the same thing like ben waxman. in a poll, how many haredim would answer that they don't want a hiloni neighbor.

    LOZ - when I first saw the poll, I thought the same thing.

  14. Shaya, Mrs, maybe it is misworded,. I am not calling anybody anything. I am relating a reason I have heard given as an explanation. I am not saying it is true, but it is a reason that is assumed and might be partially true, though I think in small numbers, if at all..

  15. Actually I think the Amei HaAretz would be offended if they learned they were likened to Chilonim. They basically were Torah observant. They all separated Terumah, most of them separated all Matnos Kehunah and Leviyah, and they wouldn't even lie on Shabbos, never mind transgress it.

  16. Not just Meah Shearim and RBS B.


  17. ok, let's get real. you know perfectly well that the term am ha'aretz is very derogatory and basically insinuates to the general public a classless, soulless individual....(that's the image I received in Brooklyn at least).

    I agree, they might not be learned in the traditions and studies of their religion, but all my chiloni relatives are very fine people.

    Tzom Kal

  18. Rafi,

    I just had this conversation with a friend of mine who is also chiloni.

    He does not want to live near charedim not out of guilt that he should do better, but because he does not want his children to grow up with the default setting that charedim are proper jews. He (and I agree) believe that the charedi lifestyle has very little to do with judaism. He (and I) reject the idea that judaism is a ladder with charediim on top and chilonim on the bottom.
    Unfortunatly, even though there are diffrent types of religious people, when enough charedim move into a modern ortho community for example, the modern orthodox start shifting to have kollells and glatt and black hats and not cutting letters on their birthday cakes on shabat etc etc etc.
    So while chiloniim might be ok living near modern orthodox, what frequently happens is that the m.o. community gradually becomes charedi.
    And all the chiloniim I know, including myself, do not feel that charedim are representative of judaism or jews. I and the people I have spoken with all pretty much agree that the charedi version of Judaism is an unhealthy and twisted cult version which is mistakenly thought of as Judaism simply because of their loudness and zeal. It would be like if the evangelical Mormons became the face of Christianity even though they are a minor subset that most Christians barely recognize as a Christian group.
    Unlike my friend though I am not racist and have enough love for the world that I don't mind if my children see charediim. I get to use that as a teaching tool to explain the differences in what type of jews my family are and what type of "jew" the charedim are.

  19. way - what does that have to do with living near them? you can be neighbors without thinking they are the top of the ladder. just like you can be a neighbor with a jews for Jesus, a Buddhist a Hindi, an atheist an agnostic, an Englishman, a Frenchman, etc. with anybody and you do not have to think they are the top of the ladder.

  20. way - what does that have to do with living near them? you can be neighbors without thinking they are the top of the ladder. just like you can be a neighbor with a jews for Jesus, a Buddhist a Hindi, an atheist an agnostic, an Englishman, a Frenchman, etc. with anybody and you do not have to think they are the top of the ladder.

  21. What it means is that Charedim feel they are on the top of the ladder. They believe they are living the most correct lifestyle and part of that means trying to influence the area around you to become more. Sort of like your point of the riots. Why do they riot? because they feel they are correct. They feel they are living the godly lifestyle and they are right and everyone else is wrong and even subhuman. So yes, while the riots are a stark example, you don't need the violence to see that perspective, that charedim feel they are on top, and some people are worried about what that influence may do to your community and family.

    As I said though, I don't mind that influence. I am in the 49% who don't mind charedim nearby just like I dont mind blacks or aisians or christians or muslims or etc etc etc. But many people I know dont want their children living near what they consider to be dangerously unhinged people who think they carry god's truth.

  22. so you are basically saying the same thing I said in my main reason.

    but to your point - doesn't everybody think they are living the "rihgt" lifestyle and are the top of the ladder? nobody thinks they are wrong. if someone thought he was wrong he would change his lifestyle to what he considered right (if he could, or as much as he could), no?

  23. Personally, an MO person, I wouldn't mind living near a Charedi family. Or a Chiloni family. Or any other type of family. I would even love to live on a street that is closed on Shabbat. But I do NOT want to live on a street that is mostly Charedi. They live a lifestyle that has very limited acceptance of other ways of living and that would cause too much conflict.

    I would never throw stones at someone who wears a bekishe and a shtreimel. But they would throw stones at my wife and daughters for wearing pants.


  24. Mrs. RBS: I think your understanding of "am haaretz" is a Brooklyn thing. I think the traditional and certainly Israeli understanding of the work is an unlearned Jew, nothing to do with manners or class.

  25. Yes, the point is much the same, but the issue is more than violence. I won't walk up to charedi jews and try to be mkarev them to be chozer b'shaelah. However, charediim have no problem putting down my lifestyle and judging it openly and publicly as less valuable, if not outright wrong and deviant, than their lifestyle.
    I was having a conversation on my blog sometime back, before I disappeared for a while, with someone who is m.o. (I think) and he stated flat out that religious people are better because they have some guiding principle in life to keep them decent and secular/atheists don't have that and therefore are dangerous and untrustworthy. So even if a charedi group isn't threatening violence it can be difficult to live near people who are openly contemptous of one's lifestyle.
    And then there are examples of charediim moving into a neighberhood and all of a sudden the demographic of the area changes and driving on shabat or shopping on shabat etc becomes more difficult. If you want to walk to shul on shabat that is your buisiness, but why can't I drive on shabat?

    Furthermore, esp in Israel, charediim are typically unemployed and have many children and relatives. So all of a sudden that three bedroom flat across the hall now has 12 people living there where before there were two adults and two or three kids. And then their friend from kollel moves in to the flat next door and now you have 24 people living in two flats ion your floor. That can be difficult for people who don't live that lifestyle to deal with.

    In terms of thinking that one's lifestyle is right, I dispute your notion that everyone thinks their lifestyle is right while everyone else is wrong. There are those (such as myself and other secular people I know) who believe that there is no right and wrong, there are only healthy and unhealthy choices. And what is a healthy choice for me may not be a healthy choice for you. Therefore I have no problem with a charedi (or anyone) making whatever choices they need to make for themselves and their family. But that respect for their choice is not reciprocated with a healthy respect for other people's choice.

  26. Rafi, I agree with the Way. Only charedim and other religious fundamentalists think they they are "right" and everyone else is wrong. The hallmark of modernity is understanding that there are multiple truths and that what is Right for me is not necessarily Right for you, and that's ok.

    Also, it's not the violence, per se, that might repel chilonim from welcoming charedi neighbors with open arms. It's the way they have a tendency to take over a neighborhood, which is why you end up with situations like Kiryat Yovel.

    It wasn't always like this. Yerushalayim boasted many mixed neighborhoods where secular and religious lived next to each other without a problem. There was an article in Haaretz a few weeks ago about the numerous chassidish courts that used to exist in TA where even chilnonim were known to pop in for a bracha or a question http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1088801.html

    This was Tel Aviv proper,not Bnei Brak.

    I think the central question remains, how did things get so out of whack where we live in a country where it's nearly impossible for certain Jews to live near each other.

  27. Rafi,

    I think you made some poor assumptions on your way to a good point.

    - Just because someone doesn't want to live near another doesn't mean that they "hate" them.

    - This doesn't only apply to secular. I would say that the vast majority, way more than 51%, of the Dati Jews in Sheinfeld would not want a Chareidi neighborhood nearby if they had a choice.

    My block has around 100 families, most Dati. Many "Chardal". I'm hearing more and more that they'd prefer secular to Chareidi neighbors.

    - There's a semantic problem here which I think is causing a lot of problems. Though you and my Toldos Aharon neighbors call yourself "Chareidi" you actually have very little in common.

    - I totally agree with other commenters that there is a problem in the Chareidi world, which does not exist elswhere, in that many Chareidim believe that they are right to the exclusion of others.

    Personally, I believe that a sincere Modern Orhtodox Hashkafa is much more ideal, if not more risky. However, I accept that there are other valid paths which are necessary and even better for some people.

    The problem is, and it has nothing to do with guilt, that when a Chareidi neighborhood is built the neighbors have no way of knowing if it's going to be populated with Rafi G's or a bunch of nutcases. And if it's mainly Rafi G's there's always the risk of the nutcases, who carry the same label and wear similar uniforms, can slip in. And it only takes a handful of them to ruin it for everyone.


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