More Machlokes Ahead Of Elul

21

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Police were compelled to respond to a dispute which erupted in Beit Shemesh today (August 29th) as members of the chareidi and dati leumi community were at odds regarding a local school, if boys or girls will occupy the building in the upcoming 5772 school year.

The dispute surrounds the Orot B’not girl’s school in the community, a school that serves the dati leumi community of Beit Shemesh. It is among the larger schools in the city.

Parents aligned with the dati leumi sector explain Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul has been the recipient of threats from “radical chareidim”; explaining chareidim maintain they were promised the girls would be out and the building would only be used for boys.

According to the dati leumi parents, the chareidim allege there is another building on the same campus which was funded by the Ministry of Education and approved by the local municipality intended for girls, slated to open its doors for this school year – freeing this structure for boys only.

Ze’ev Moskowitz, who has a daughter in the school and who serves as the spokesman for the PTA added, “at the last moment, after obtaining all the necessary local and national permits to open, chareidi elements have decided to attempt to prevent this from happening”.

Moskowitz adds that parents have been manning the building over recent days to prevent vandalism, adding he fears the mayor is backing down, simply because he is afraid of the extremist elements – those willing to attack the building and its students with rocks. He added that parents have already decided that if the mayor capitulates to the chareidim the dati leumi sector will strike the opening of the school year.

No response was available from City Hall.

A decision was made to shut the building pending a decision from the Ministry of Education and the Beit Shemesh Municipality’s Education officials.

AS WE PUBLISH: It has just been learned that fanatic elements affiliated with the chareidi sector appear unwilling to accept any compromise, and there are threats being leveled against the students, both verbal and physical. According to an Arutz-7 report, the girls will face dangers heading to school in a number of days, including rock-throwing and spitting aimed at them by these fanatics. The mayor is being accused of not doing enough to protect the girls slated to attend the school, and the dati leumi community does not feel police will provide adequate protection for its daughters.

Moskowitz warns that it does not take much for the situation to escalate chas v’sholom, and this can occur due to rock-throwing or other acts of violence.

Beit Shemesh spokesman Moti Rozensweig explains the building in located in the heart of a chareidi area, and as such, residents feel the building and campus belongs to them, to serve the needs of the local community. On the other hand, Mayor Abutbul does not wish to go back on the word of his predecessor, Mayor Daniel Vaknin, who promised the building to the girl’s school – but quickly accused the school of a “lack of flexibility”, an unwillingness to consider placing the school in another building (area).

Rozensweig adds he recalls the stormy protest two years ago that accompanied the start of construction, when local [chareidi] residents blocked bulldozers with their bodies.  Through the intervention of the mayor, a decision was reached by which the building would be used by the dati leumi sector, boys however, not girls, and the girls would relocated to Beit Shemesh Aleph. In return for their agreement the school was given a number of perks by the mayor, a showing of gratitude for the willingness to arrive at an amicable solution. These perks included funding for transportation, adding an additional floor to the new site of the girl’s school, and funding for renovations, but now, Rozensweig accuses the dati leumi sector of violating that agreement.

Rozensweig stresses that at present, the mayor has not allocated the building to any sector and he will continue his efforts towards reaching a mutually agreeable solution.

In response to allegations that the mayor is acting in response to threats made against him, Rozensweig concluded, “The mayor does not respond to threats and decisions are not made under duress, but responsibly, towards the betterment of the city and all its residents”. 

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


21 COMMENTS

  1. “Beit Shemesh spokesman Moti Rozensweig explains the building in located in the heart of a chareidi area, and as such, residents feel the building and campus belongs to them, to serve the needs of the local community.” It is NOT in the heart of a chareidi area – it is on the border of the chareidi area and the dati leumi area.

  2. it is an extremest element in the charedi community, there are plenty of charedim siding with the dati leumi parents. Additionally this building is not in the heart of the charedi community, it is on the border between the dati leumi area and the extremest area.

  3. The Bet Shemesh spokesman, possibly due of lack of knowledge (to be Dan L’kaf Zchus), wasn’t totally accurate – besides the misstatement as to the location of the school, there are email and news records from when the building commenced that it was intended for the girls’ school.
    In general this mayor seems to be susceptible to threats of violence, particularly from this extremist sect. He has capitulated to them other times, to the detriment of the general population of Bet Shemesh, which includes the mainstream Chareidim.

  4. Thank you for sharing this story. Now, yidden around the world are aware of this machlokes, have a chance to comment on it and take sides. Beautiful.

  5. Before I ask my question let me just state that I absolutely loath extremists!

    With that said, I’m kind of confused. Unless I misread the article, it appears that the Ministry has offered them a larger building and funding for both renovations and transportation. IF so, for the sake of peace wouldn’t it be better to except the offer? After all, Avraham was willing to pack up and leave to make peace with Lot even though Lot was 100% wrong.

    Further more, who wants to have there school next to a bunch of fanatics?! RBS-A is a much more excepting environment in my opinion!

    Is there something I’m missing hear?

  6. I wonder about people who call themselves very frum throwing rocks at children. I’m sure they feel it gives much nachas to their Father in Heaven.

  7. I remember reading reports that in Afghanistan the local fanatics attacked girls going to school, even resorting to throwing acid at them. The Police and Border Police, together with the anti riot squads should be on hand to halt the extremists in their tracks. The Dati Leumi community is a Torah community that has every right to educate their children close by their own homes. They do not need to be shipped out like Negroes in the old South on segregated buses.

  8. Run from Machlokes as you run from fire, especially in Elul! as the title states (notice the excitement in the title).
    But hey! according to this article, there is simply ‘no reason at all’ why these ‘fanatics’ don’t want them there,
    Well, I’m just wondering…
    I’m also wondering what ‘Dati L’Umi’ girls look and behave like… oh, and in Elul!!!
    By the way, what exactly is Dati L’Umi, Orthodox? so why aren’t they just ‘Dati’?
    Oy Vey!

  9. Best to live in mixed areas like Raanana, Kfar Saba, Rechovot, etc. this way all factions of Jews try harder to get along.
    These extremists were sent out of Meah Shearim cause of trouble they have started there. Bet Shemesh will be another neighborhood headed for destruction if this is allowed to continue..OY VEY

  10. This bldg borders the Sheinfeld and Nof Aviv areas which are Torah Observant families who were allocated this particular building for the OROT school (which happens to be an excellent Torah school for girls).
    The school is growing each year with parents from Ramat Bet Shemesh alef beginning to send their girls there to learn also. The arnona is paid by these residents and the school is theirs.

  11. Most of the kids that go to the school will be WALKING to school. It is their neighborhood school. It would mean that they would incur significantly greater expense to go to the school — not to mention that it would take them a lot longer to get there.

    The extremists do not live there — they are mostly (to our knowledge) coming from RBS-B — and they have come to other schools in RBS-A attempting to close them as well.

    Re: the dress code. From first grade, there is a uniform which includes shirts over the elbow and with completely closed necks, long skirts, etc.. In any event, the school only has grades 1-6.

    In general, these fanatics want the building for themselves. They have no interest in boys being there. When the boys school moved there several years ago, these same people did all they could to try and get that building as well. (They live a lot farther from this location than the population they are trying to kick out).

    In general, many of the more extreme elements are trying to make the city become more similar to Me’ah She’arim (a bit more extreme in many ways) and would ideally like the dati le’umi community that is already here to move out.

    It is not a matter of “giving in for the sake of peace”. Unfortunately, the only thing that giving in will do at this point is encourage them to threaten and do more damage at the next juncture down the road.

  12. Dresscode or not has nothing to do with a building belonging to a school.
    Buy sunglasses, move out, walk on another block and find another building that can be used by the children you want educated there.

  13. @11 bklynmom – I’ve been living in BS for 9 year and I am Dati LeUmi. When we came here, this was a mixed city where people got along! I remember the intense feeling of Ahavat Yisrael that I felt when I drove down the road between BS and RBS A, passing through Chareidi RBS B and “kvelling” at the beautiful children; boys with payot flying and girls with long braids. I often stopped to give “trempin” to Chareidi women and occassionally frequented the shopping center there.

    But a few years back something changed. Suddenly many of the women started wearing black ponchos, even in the Middle Eastern summer heat. Then we started having trouble with rock throwing. Then they started harassing our kids if they walked through the area on Shabbat – mind you, it’s the only way to get to RBS A from BS unless you want to walk on an unlit, isolated, uninhabited highway. It culminated with a young girl being beaten by a mob of “Chareidi” men. A true Chareidi family – not one with quotes around the word – pulled her into their house to save her. Not that it matters, but this girl was dressed in a tzanua fashion.

    I have no problem with those who want to be isolationists. I have a problem with isolationists who plop themselves down in the *middle* of a city and expect everyone around them to bend to their will. Beitar Ilit is totally off the beaten track. If you choose to move there, you know what to expect. There’s an area called Cheftziba in BS that is totally off the beaten track as well – Kol Hakavod – live and be well! But this particular group of extremist isolationists moved into buildings that are on the most major artery in BS, and currently the only one that connects BS to RBS A unless you go out of your way to go to the highway and circle round. This is not an option if you want to walk to someone by foot on Shabbat, or bicycle over.

    There was supposed to be a different major artery built, but the “Chareidim” stopped it because they didn’t want it to run through their neighborhood. There *IS* a spacious shopping center in this area that was built and abandoned before it opened – because “Chareidim” didn’t want a shopping center in their area.

    Understand, the entire surrounding area where these schools are now, finally B”H, built, was originally supposed to be a mixed area. That’s why such a big mall was built to begin with. On one side of the school is Ramat Neria, Nofei Aviv and Nofei Hashemesh. Right across from the school is Sheinfeld. These are all Dati Leumi areas (that also have some Chilonim, Yeshivish, Ethiopians, Russians). But on the other side of the school, Chareidim moved in. Only Chareidim. These types of Chareidim immediately put up “Tznius” signs and started to vandalize property and harrass the people across the street because *their TVs could be seen from the Chareidims homes!!!*

    A lot of effort was expended on the part of the Dati Leumi communities to bridge gaps. Mishloach Manot campaigns to our Chareidi neighbors, and all sorts of friendly gestures. It dies down for a bit, but it always gets back to this. The bullies always go back to true form.

    If you want to live an isolationist life, you can’t move in to the center of town, take over all the resources, and demand that everyone around you change.

  14. I feel that this (rather long) piece sums up the situation in Beit Shemesh very well:

    If Extremism Wins…

    In recent days, a bitter and entirely unnecessary conflict has broken out between a small collection of extremists in Beit Shemesh and a group of well-intentioned parents who have no interest other than to educate their daughters in a safe and nurturing environment. Fearing the presence of a girls school close to their homes, villains masked as haredim have embarked on a campaign of terror and intimidation just days before the school was scheduled to open.

    As law-abiding, tax-paying and peace-loving citizens of Beit Shemesh and Israel we are deeply shocked and dismayed over the actions of our elected government, and in particular, Mayor Moshe Abutbul, who is fully responsible for allowing this situation to escalate to the dangerous proportions it has.

    The Mayor has rejected the interests of the city’s residents, who he was elected to represent, in the face of what he claims are threats of violence by a small pocket of hooligans. It was subsequently revealed that these claims were just another one of Abubul’s falsehoods as no documentation has ever been produced by the police regarding any real threats.

    While some might believe that this is an issue which affects only us, the parents of Beit Sefer Orot Banot, or just the residents of Beit Shemesh, if the extremists are allowed to prevail in the supposed cause of their perverted view of Judaism, it will signal the start of a dangerous and deeply disturbing trend for our entire nation.

    On every level – legal, moral and practical – these extremists are armed only with arguments that defy any form of logic or rational thinking. Legally, we, the representatives of Beit Sefer Orot Banot were provided every written and oral assurance that the building in question would be allocated for the educational use of our daughters. Morally, it is deeply shocking to suggest that the presence of a religious school (for modestly dressed girls aged between 6 and 12) should be offensive to anyone. Practically, this school is not located within a haredi neighborhood as the Mayor and some in the media have come to suggest; but is rather situated between two neighborhoods. On one side is a haredi neighborhood which is still under construction. On the the other a national religious neighborhood which has been in place since the late 1980’s and is home to several thousand families.

    Contrary to what many might believe from the reports in the national media, the residents of Beit Shemesh live in large part in harmonious co-existence. Bitter flare-ups of tensions like this are very much the exception and every effort is made to ensure that we can live alongside each other with respect. Despite our diversity, or perhaps because of it, we firmly believe that as Jews living in the land of Israel we must respect the rights of others. Haredi, chiloni, dati leumi, or even non-Jewish , we firmly believe that even when others might think differently than us, assuming they are willing to operate within the confines of the law and not impose their views upon others, we will welcome them as neighbors and even as friends.

    This understanding has contributed to the remarkable growth of our town, a place where we were proud to raise our children and a locale that has attracted many new families from across Israel and around the world.

    Yet, we are now deeply fearful that we no longer have a partner in that vision. We are further dismayed that the one man who should be committed to helping us realize it is cowardly caving to the demands of a tiny group of dangerous ideologues who fear that anyone who is not like them represents a threat.

    Mayor Abutbul has repeatedly stated that while he wants to resolve this matter, he fears violence. To that cowardice, we say that it is his job, and that of the police, to respond to violence and squash it to the fullest extent of the law. We all pay taxes, support the police and our government because we believe that they will protect us in times of need. Now is such a time of need; when villains are threatening our daughters and when religious extremism is pushing an insane agenda opposed to everything good for which this city and nation represents.

    At this moment we are painfully forced to acknowledge that our city sits at a crossroads. If the law-abiding residents of this city are victorious in this pursuit, and we are confident that we will be, then the future of Beit Shemesh remains bright and hope-filled. However, if the Mayor is not willing to stand up for his city and will allow it to fall into the hands of extremists than we are deeply fearful that the hopes for this city will all too-soon be lost. And if Beit Shemesh is to fall to these absurdities, let there be no doubt that all too many other cities will soon fall as well.

  15. When one side refers to the other as “extremists”, you know the misrepresentation and hyperbole is at play, and the facts are left far behind.

  16. CHEIN,

    Extremists can be called by any name you prefer, yet when property, physical, and emotional damage occurs the better name is JEWISH TERRORISTS.