First, Let’s Calm Down

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22 Responses

  1. Yisrael Meyerowitz says:

    Excellent article! Thank you for publishing it.

  2. dr. bill says:

    Disregard for the moment the details of the various cases, where one could expect greater sensitivity even from one’s non-religious neighbors. Societies should acknowledge and bend over backwards to accommodate the different needs of some of its members. So why is it not happening? the problem is that this sub-group, in the opinion of Stanley Fischer, on current course and speed, will contribute a systemic 6% unemployment. as a result it is not viewed as a part of the tzibbur and frankly (some of) its leaders say so quite openly. we all hope as more elements of chareidi society begin to integrate, they will (continue to) receive fair treatment. in any case, all of this pales in insignificance when compared to the accommodations Israeli society is making to integrate chareidim.

  3. aron feldman says:

    For years the perception amongst the DL world was that they are junior partners with the Secular elite,whose only axe to grind is with the Charedim. Due to the feeding frenzy whipped up by the Seculars with help from Academia and the oped board of Haaretz about a possible DL mutiny and impending civil war,it is safe to say that the Secular animus towards the DL is more than it is towards the Charedim

  4. Dovid says:

    I agree with just about every word.

    The problem is that the charedi world is not producing enough Jonathan Rosenblums – intelligent, sophisticated, well-informed and eloquent representatives of the community who could present charedi life and values in a way that secular Jews could understand and appreciate.

  5. bobf says:

    I wholly agree with your main point to calm down. I have two comments on minor points you made.
    1-Theere is some research that says single sex schooling is better; however there is other evidence- at least as much if not more that it is not helpful, so it should not be said as if it is a decided issue in the literature.
    2-I haven’t read this new Naomi Regan article but it seems like she was trying to satirize the extremism of Eidah, that she was not at all serious.

  6. Mr. Cohen says:

    Around 20 years ago, I attended a speech in Manhattan by a high-ranking IDF officer
    at the headquarters of a pro-Israel organization.

    He admitted to his audience that one of the goals of the IDF is to make Israeli women modern,
    meaning they should follow Feminist teachings, such as working outside the house at
    the same jobs men do; for Israeli women to be housewives is unacceptable to the IDF.

  7. dr. bill says:

    aron feldman, your comments may be accurate about some in the DL community, who preach extreme settler views. the DL population is well integrated in the parts of Israeli society with whom i am very familiar – academia, finance and high-tech. i heard a lecture recently that that claimed that one result of the positive integration of the DL community, is the demise of the traditional mizrachi party; it is no longer needed. the views of its members are well represented by the major parties.

    mr. cohen, it should be obvious that a speech by a high ranking official does not necessarily mean that the organization agrees or that it acts on those views. the exemptions that allow religious girls to perform other non-military service for the State, makes any such views less critical, in any case.

  8. S. says:

    “She thus established her ignorance of halacha and her failure to comprehend the Jewish concept of modesty. The black letter halacha, codified in Shulchan Aruch and based on the Talmud, is that it is forbidden for husband or wife to remain clothed during relations. Those relations are referred to by the Torah as “da’at” (knowledge), signifying the deepest possible connection between two human beings.”

    Chassidei Ger. Not such a secret you know.

    Write an article about how they’re Reform Jews, and then maybe we can take the claim that because the Shulchan Aruch says X then Not X is not a possibility among Chareidim. (This is aside for the fact that Naomi Ragen may have no idea what she is talking about.)

  9. Menachem Lipkin says:

    I respect Jonathan and understand that he tries both to be a voice of moderation to the “outside” world and to prod the “olem” to improve. However, in this case I think he’s off the mark.

    To those of us living in the trenches with these issues for years now, it’s a welcome blessing that the broader Israeli society has finally woken up to this problem and we are thrilled to finally have the media and politicians paying attention. Because of this, finally, the police are beginning to act against the extremists living among us. Jonathan, by cherry picking a couple of isolated examples and then comparing to them to what goes on in “normal” places, has obfuscated the larger, more pernicious issue. No, it’s not a strictly feminist issue, but if that’s the “hook” that was needed to wake people up then we’ll take it. The issue is one of a cancerous spread of religious fanaticism. These pages and other blogs have overflowed with examples, so there’s no need to list all of them. But the seemingly innocuous examples Jonathan brought are just the tip of the iceberg.

    So, for example, while it may not have been outrageous, in isolation, to have a temporary separation in Mea Shaarim during the height of Succot, there’s a permanent sign in front of a synagogue just a couple of blocks from my house that asks women to cross the street, and women who do not oblige have been spat upon. If people within a certain type of community want to voluntarily segregate themselves on buses that serve ONLY those types of people, then that’s their business, but it’s totally unacceptable to foist this on buses that travel intercity or among different types of neighborhoods within the same, diverse city. (And let’s be honest here, if these extremists truly “honor” women the way they claim, then they would reserve the front of the bus for them and not the rear, which is objectively less comfortable and more difficult to access.)

    If one steps back and looks at the panorama of extremist issues, from separate buses, to extorting businesses to put up “tznius” signs, to removing women from all advertising, to running out of ceremony when women get up to sing, to not calling women up to a podiumm at a government event, to receive their medical award, and on and on, it’s not unreasonable for the broader public to perceive this in feminist terms. To compare any of these items to what’s done in the US or other countries, where there is no broad based effort to enact such restrictions in so many areas of daily life, is to truly miss the point of what’s going on here.

    Regarding, what we in Bet Shemesh affectionately refer to as our Burqa Babes, I must admit to enjoying a level of glee at the sight of the “Frankenstein” Eidah squirming in the face of this “monster” they created. While Jonathan is right that there have been quiet murmurings among some rabbis against this for a while, it has reached a crescendo of late. There’s no question that some of these women are wackos, as exemplified by one of their leaders in Ramat Bet Shemesh who was arrested for basically running a brothel in her house. But to assume this of all of them is, again, to miss the point. I’ve seen a couple of videos recently of these women speaking about there beliefs. They sincerely believe that what they are doing is what’s right in the eyes of God. To my mind they are simply invoking a basic Kal V’chomer. If the “normative” Chareidi world is pushing women out of view in so many arenas, if even “progressive” magaizines like Mishpacha and AMI make it a sin of temptation to even view a 2-dimentional picture of a modestly dressed woman, how much more so should it be forbidden to gaze on any part of an actual, 3-dimensional, living woman? They are simply following the extremes of the recent tznius obsession to their logical conclusion.

    We in Bet Shemesh have davka been making a concerted effort to bring national attention to these issues. So, no Jonathan, the very last thing we want is for people to “calm down”.

  10. Chava Klein says:

    Most charedim are peaceful, but most also do not want to be “super-frum” and also do understand that other Jews have the right to practice religion differently than they do. However, don’t blame secular people for being worried when they see Charedim — I am Orthodox and have trouble understanding their mindset. It seems their mindset is far from “let me be a light unto the nations” and is more about “let me not have to interact with anyone – even frum Jews – who don’t follow the exact rules I do.”

  11. Yosef Blau says:

    In order that Rabbi Rosenbloom’s defence be effective it has to deal with the issues that are causing the recent criticism of the treatment of women by elements of the Haredi community in Israel.
    !)The often violent daily demonstrations in Beit shemesh against the students of aa single sex girls elementary school
    2)The gender separation on public buses with women in the back of the bus
    3)Signs telling women told that they are not permitted to walk on one side of the street
    4)No pictures of women or girls in Haredi newspapers
    5)The Taliban women
    Non of the above is even mentioned in the article.

  12. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Dovid, the hareidi world did not produce Jonathan Rosenblum. It received him as a finished product and did kiruv on him. A bochur from the hareidi world will not go to Yale Law School. If he is extraordinary he will make it to Lakewood or Ner Yisroel or Mir, but he will not have that secular polish which enables JR to speak to the general audience. It is possible to attain something approaching it by hard work, but people whose motivation is toward Torah will not invest in this way. As a result there will always be communication problems which can only be solved by kiruv, by bringing Torah to the masses of non-frum Jews and explaining it to non-Jews. But the resources are always going to be limited, and an FFB bochur who wishes to take such a course is often going to be misunderstood and even kicked out of his yeshiva. It’s a delicate process. We need people in chinuch who see the value of chanoch l’naar al pi darko.

  13. Raymond says:

    While I agree with just about every word that Jonathan Rosenblum said here, I have personally witnessed some behavior among some very Orthodox Jews that would indicate them being nowhere as reasonable as he is.

    In any case, at least when it comes to the bus issue, to me the solution is quite simple, and that is, to completely privatize public transportation. Bus companies could be free to have mixed seating or separate seating, and let the pocket book of individual riders decide which of those companies would be more successful.

  14. Orit says:

    You really missed naomi Regan’s point. She was talking about Burka ladies refusing to go to the mikva because they consider it immodest to disrobe. She then wrote that the ideal as far as this “modest” sense would dictate IVF as a purer level of creating children than the regular way. You may not like Naomi Regan, but it seems you are simply not understanding her rather clear point here in an attempt to say something negative about her. She was being sarcastic!

  15. L. Oberstein says:

    “The problem is that the charedi world is not producing enough Jonathan Rosenblums – intelligent, sophisticated, well-informed and eloquent representatives of the community who could present charedi life and values in a way that secular Jews could understand and appreciate.”
    In a sense these issues are all tied together. Once you establish as a norm that people who in the United States would have given their children at least a high school education, choose to integrate into an Israeli chareidi society where their own children are deprived of a core curriculum and have no preparation for a livlihood, how can you then expect to produce what you say is needed.
    Jonathan Rosenblum’s position is the brainchild of Rabbi Moshe Sherer who saw that Israelis had no idea or real interest in presenting chareidi views in a positive light. They are in a battle for survival and have been circling the wagons for a century or more. I think we all agree that the extremists do not represent what we call normative chareidi Judaism but we are stuck with being labeled in the same camp as they,whether we like it or not.
    I just came home from a wedding and heard some less observant guests commenting on how they couldn’t understand how men and women were even in the same room as they had read about segregated side walks in Israel. They assumed we all subscribe to that.

  16. Dr. E. says:

    I am with Rabbi Blau on this one as honing in on some of the core issues going on in Eretz Yisrael today. Reb Jonathan’s not dealing with the current news cycle is telling. Hilary is yesterday’s news and her credibility to weigh in on anything really is objectively marginal. Talking about Naomi Ragen or the sanctity of marriage is also yesterday’s news and really a diversion from the main issue.

    The items that Rabbi Blau cites which Reb Jonathan omits are coming from somewhere. Is it really just “the extremists”? The discomfort that the Chareidi community has for the State sort of parallels the discomfort that they have for those who live in Sheinfeld, Modiin, etc.; this has been an attitude held for many years. To marginalize extreme elements in Yerushalayim and Beit Shemesh is an all too convenient scapegoat for moderate Chariedim. Furthermore, is spinning segregated buses and removing photos of women as representing “respect for women” intellectually honest? Let’s be real. Most Chareidim are uncomfortable with the Sheinfeldians and Modiiners inasmuch as they have different standards of chitzoniyus, send their kids to fight in the IDF (even if some of them may have been among those who protested the women singing), travel on mixed buses, allow pictures of women, and probably the fact that they work in high tech and other professional pursuits (rather than taking vows of poverty). The onus is really on the mainstream Chareidi community to now show that the extremists are not merely openly expressing what they have really been thinking. I am not holding my breath, espcially after the passing of Rav Finkel zt”l.

    Reb Jonathan does a great job in defending the rights of Hesder students in the IDF (once they are in the IDF). Other than the small numbers who enter through Nachal Chareidi (which makes for an occasional nice feature piece in Mishpacha), I would like to see a similar defense by Reb Jonathan of Hesder as a l’chatchila track.

    Yes, there are Poskim, Iluyim, Baalei Mofsim, and great Baalei Machshava who are Torah luminaries. And even for those of us who do not see any one luminary’s words as binding, they deserve our honor and respect for the light which they bring into the world. But, we lack real “Gedolim”, who are truly Gedolei Hador” and are “in touch” and “shaveh l’chol nefesh”. (I see this trend as fertile ground for Askanim to filter information to these Torah luminaries to spin the facts-on the ground in Beit Shemesh and elsewhere). Furthermore, beyond blasting out Kol Korehs, there is no organized infrastructure in the Chareidi community for the leadership, even if it did truly exist, to really say or do anything constructive anyway. Eretz Yisrael has become the “Wild West” and the anarchy which exists allows the Kannoim, Sikrikim, etc. to have free reign in this vacuum.

    The reality is that there seems to be an existential battle for the definition of Eretz Yisrael going on. Are the standards of the country going to be dictated by the Me’atim to the Rabim? Let’s let Mea Shearim be Meah She’arim and not do anything to offend a standard that has been in place for over a hundred years. But elsewhere, let’s also equally respect viable standards that have existed and no impose extreme standards on 7 year old girls or their 37 year old mothers. (I just pray that Hilary has not seen that YouTube video.)

    What the Dati Leumi is looking for is not Kiruv- or PR-type tolerance and support, but the genuine respect that they deserve for living productive Torah lives (mostly in single-gendered schools and without any “Feminist” agendas BTW), defending the country, and contributing to the nation’s infrastructure.

  17. koillel nick says:

    @Yosef Blau (Is this the “Rabbi?’)
    The answer is that we have become election mode 24/7/all year long. We cannot do any internal criticism. Certainly we cannot accept any criticism from a non-charedi source. For some reason, this blog’s purpose is to defend ourselves to ourselves. Elections 2012. Agreed, that there is no value in an op ed like this one, as it helps no one becomes a better, more understanding, moral, person. Still, it has become the style, and it will eventually cause the destruction of this charedi society as we know it. Chaval, as I really love parts of it.
    Historically, most huge changes in Torah Judaism, happened more due to social issues, not philosophical. The masses couldn’t understand the difference between the Hassidic Rabbis and the Misnagdim, but the cherems talk more about the Chassidim making their own communities, than about changing minhagim. The masses were attracted to Rabbis that made the a somebody. Did everyone in Germany in the 1830s really understand Kant? Or did social issues cause them to abandon Torah? Same goes for the haskallah movement, whereas some knew the difference, the majority that went along, went along for social issues. I just hope that the next movement will correct the problems, and that it will not cause my peers and friends to abandon Torah.
    (If this is the Mashgiach, please right Rabbi, so that people do not disrespect.)

  18. Abe71 says:

    While there are surely rational explanations for many of the restrictions that have been recently publicized, and the author does a good job of cherry-picking in order to cite those which are explainable, and while there are clearly times where separation is mandated, required and/or desirable for either or both of Halachic imperative or simply normal derech eretz, and, furthermore while we may stipulate there is a bias in the media against Haredim (and Jews and Israel), none of that explains or excuses the mistreatment of any woman or anyone else. If the general public would sense that the Hareidi community (and indeed we should not even make that distinction, rather we should say that the Observant community) was actually respectful of women (as I know they (or I should say, WE) are, then they would not attack, or at least would be greatly undercut in their attempts to attack us for things like 5 days of seperate sidewalks in Meah Shearim or observance of Kol Isha). If, however, we stand by, or don’t stand by, but appear to, because we are quieter than everyone else, when a chilul Hashem is perpatrated by people with beards and kippas and hats who curse and spit and assault our sisters “in the name of Torah”, then WE should be prepared to be attacked for reasonable exhibitions of our faith. Does “Kol kvuda bat melech pnima” mean that some thug from the street decides if the Kovod is bifnim? Does is mean that if a bat melech dresses in accordance with the dictates of her Torah observant community then the follower of another Rav may declare she is not fit for Kavod and publicly humiliate her? Does it mean that if another bat melech is not observant, then she is not worthy of kavod, or maybe that she is but we will have to beat her until she realizes? How about before we get to the word “pnima” we first tarry at the words “bat melech” and realize what is happening before our eyes. Hashem Yerachem.

  19. Tal Benschar says:

    “We in Bet Shemesh have davka been making a concerted effort to bring national attention to these issues. So, no Jonathan, the very last thing we want is for people to “calm down”.”

    Menachem: Do your children attend separate-gender schools? If so, then acc. to some MKs whom you are happy to have along, you are committing violence against them. Ditto a shul with a mechitzah.

    So don’t be surprised if these people decide to outlaw these things, or at least stop all government funding to them.

    As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

  20. Tal Benschar says:

    “In order that Rabbi Rosenbloom’s defence be effective it has to deal with the issues that are causing the recent criticism of the treatment of women by elements of the Haredi community in Israel.”

    R. Rosenbloom can speak for himself, but I did not read his piece as a “defence.” I read it as saying that things should be put in perspective. There are legitimate complaints against some groups, but there is no question that the media and some politicians have whipped up a hysteria of anti-Charedi and even anti-religious frenzy. The issues at stake are much smaller than that.

    As I have written elsewhere, segregation has a bad history from the American Jim Crow era. Gender-segregation is not the same thing as racial segregation. There is no rational reason for the latter, while there is good reason for the former on some level, and (almost) every society in the world practices it to some extent. Madame Secretary Clinton is a proud alumna of Wellesely College, a women’s only college till today. If there can be women-only gyms in Tel Aviv, there can be segregated buses in Charedi-only areas, without turning into a Taliban state.

  21. Shades of Gray says:

    “Eretz Yisrael has become the “Wild West” and the anarchy which exists allows the Kannoim, Sikrikim, etc. to have free reign in this vacuum.”

    I read that there is an effort to reorganize a Moetzes-type body of roshei yeshiva in EY. There is still, howevever, not the same lay infastructure in place as in the American Agudah.

  22. Tal Benschar says:

    “Eretz Yisrael has become the “Wild West”

    WADR, it has always been the Wild West. The other day, I saw something from a well-known politician in Brooklyn, who said that no one in Borough Park or Williamsburg has ever even thought to spit on someone they feel is immodestly dressed, and if they did they would be arrested in a minute. Some are no less religiously fanatic than their brethren in Beth Shemesh, yet somehow the American ones know how to behave, at least in public. Is it any wonder why? Eimas ha Malkhus

    IMO, a great deal of the blame must be placed at the feet of the Israeli police, who tolerated this hooliganism for too long.

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