“This does not take place in Iran or Germany” begins the report appearing in Monday’s Hebrew Hamodia, telling of the staunch secular protests in Jerusalem’s Bet HaKerem neighborhood against the construction of a new mikve.
In the beginning of his term, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was approached by secularists, expecting the non-frum mayor and Bet HaKerem resident to support their protests, but he explained that all the necessary paperwork was filed, the required approvals were received, and therefore, there was no legitimate reason to oppose the construction of the mikve.
Nevertheless, as tensions increase between the chareidi and secular residents of nearby Kiryat Yovel, Bet HaKerem secularists insist they will not sit by and permit their neighborhood to become chareidi, insisting the mikve is the first major step in that direction, compelling their unrelenting protests to halt the project.
On Friday, the anti-chareidi protestors took to the streets and headed to the construction lot of the new mikve. Their sentiments were expressed in the graffiti at the site and on the large construction project sign, including “no mikve” and “this is a chiloni (secular) community”. It appears the residents do not oppose the shul, but fear the mikve is the symbol of an area destined to become chareidi, insisting they will not permit such a reality to occur.
Jerusalem City Councilman Rabbi Eli Simchayof, who oversees the city’s religious services portfolio, sent an urgent letter to Mayor Barkat, calling Friday’s protest a “brutal scandal by neighborhood residents who engaged in vandalism and wanton destruction of public property and waste of public funds”.
Simchayof is calling for an urgent meeting, asking the mayor to summon those responsible and demand accountability and to “take stern action against these crimes, to act appropriately to prevent a reoccurrence in the future…”
City Councilman (Yahadut HaTorah) Rav Shlomo Rosenstein also turned to the mayor and police, calling on police specifically to “enforce the law” and take appropriate actions against law-breakers.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)
It’s absolutely disgusting that this can happen in our Holyland. A mikva which is used by Centrist and Rightist Orthdox Jews alike is an acceptable part of any Jewish community in any part of the world. It has nothing to do with the growth of a charaidi community.
Any type of extremism should not be put up with and that includes chilonim on the left and ultr-Orthodox on the right.
Perhaps if there was more dialogue between the two camps there would be less of such inconsiderate actions. Let’s only hope and pray that HaKadosh Baruch Hu will assist us in this development and help us be more respectful of each other.
Stephen Rubin of Fairfield, CT, USA
In the early 1970s, possibly even earlier, there was a yeshiva in Beit Hakerem. The rosh yeshiva was Horav Yisroel Kleiner, the moshgiach was Horav Ben Zion Levi, and the maggid shiur was Horav Ben Zion Shenker. It was located in an old home, adjacent to a small, picturesque park near Kikar Denmark. There were no protests against this yeshiva that I recall, in 1975. The yeshiva rented two apartments that served as dorms for the bochrim. The neighborhood was very chiloni then, probably more so than today, but there was no militant chiloni faction to prevent a yeshiva from opening or to try to shut it down.
Charaidim always have double standrard in the holy land
just try explaining that to “poshuter yid”