Charedim LaMatzav — Trembling about the Situation

Friday’s Yediot Acharonot carried an extraordinarily positive article about the Charedi community’s reaction to the current situation in Israel. For those unable to read the Hebrew, here are the first three paragraphs in translation:

Someone passing by the central synagogue of Meah Shearim this week would have had to rub his eyes. In this Yerushalmi neighborhood, considered a citadel of the Eidah HaCharedit, hundreds of neighborhood residents were saying chapters of Tehillim [Psalms] for 72 hours straight “on behalf of the People of Israel.” In the North, members of Charedi organizations volunteer in medical services and giving out essential food and goods. Members of Charedi congregations may not be fighting visibly, but they are also Charedim [Trembling] about the fate of the People of Israel and their country.

It is accepted to think that the Charedi population lives in a “bubble,” closed and enclosed, and is uninterested in things not directly relevant to it. It has become clear, however, that members of congregations in Bnei Braq and Meah Shearim tremble [Charedim] also for the fate of the People of Israel and their country, and not only for the Word of G-d. In the past weeks, from the beginning of the war in the North, the Charedim have organized special prayers for the well-being of the kidnapped soldiers, the soldiers of Tzaha”l, and the citizens of the northern communities.

“50 years ago already, the Charedim said ‘you fight, and we’ll pray,'” said a worker in the Prime Minister’s office this week, who also was a close aide of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. “Now it is true that we always come to them with complaints about this, but on the other hand, they truly stand up in time of danger. They don’t slack from their obligation that they took upon themselves. The Charedim pray because they truly believe that this is what helps, and perhaps it is necessary that someone do this.”

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7 Responses

  1. Steve Brizel says:

    This is a very positive and welcome sign of empathy and identification with one’s fellow Jew.

  2. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Notice the backhanded way in which they say it. There is a hava-amina, a thought in the back of the mind of the writer, that you are expected to think that the hareidim are totally disconnected. The fact is that it is the ultra-secular media people who are out of touch with the majority of the population who are at least somewhat traditional. Now that the secularists of Red Haifa are cornered in a shelter and can’t help but be helped by the hesed volunteers, they are forced to notice until things get quiet again and they can go back to their yetser and curse the hareidim as the media tell them to do. But now they throw a few bones for the war morale because they have to.

  3. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Military service used to be the be-all and end-all of Israeliness. That, naturally, resulted in Pariah status for Charedim.

    For the last 15 years, however, dodging the draft have become more and more acceptable. My parents wouldn\’t dream of hiring somebody who dodged the draft. My friends who didn\’t serve (in the early 90s) have no problems getting a job.

    Chiloni Israelis who accept draft dodging among their friends and colleagues naturally accept that Charedim don\’t go in the military either.

  4. ak says:

    In these final days before Tisha B’av may I suggest that we resist the temptation to see what is wrong, insincere, backhanded, etc. with our fellow Jews. Let us strive to see the positive for what it is; without being cynical. Every step of achdus, unity, no matter how small, is a step towards the Geulah, the final redemption of our people.

  5. Elad says:

    “The Charedim pray because they truly believe that this is what helps, and perhaps it is necessary that someone do this.”

    As religous jews we automaticaly take major events to heart as we understand they are orchestrated by G-d. It is hearting to see our non-religous brehteren coming to same conclusion. If we can deepen our appreciation of this fact and help others appreciate it as well, pherhaps it will obviate the need for G-d to cause this war to continue.

  6. Jewish Observer says:

    “Chiloni Israelis who accept draft dodging among their friends and colleagues naturally accept that Charedim don’t go in the military either”

    this is quite a cynical response. on what basis do you accuse the author of this article to be part of the draft dodger segment. do you not acknowledge that there is a segment of chilonom who are patriotic.?

  7. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Jewish Observer, I apologize for not writing clearly. I did not mean to say that the author of this article is anything other than a patriotic Israeli who fulfills all of the duties Israel placed on her (I assume Neta Sela is a woman).

    What I meant to say is that statistically, Neta Sela probably has colleagues, friends, or family members who are draft dodgers. Chiloni draft dodgers are not a separate segment like Israeli Arabs or Israeli Charedim are, they are mixed with the general Chiloni population.

    Therefore, Chiloni draft dodgers are a lot harder to dismiss. Having accepted them, a honest Chiloni is can’t dismiss Charedim for not serving in the military.

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