YWN MAILBAG: In Regards To Article ‘Hoodlums Attack At Beit Shemesh’s Orot School’ [VIDEOS]

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Dear YWN Editor,

My letter is in regards to your article titled “Hoodlums Attack At Beit Shemesh’s Orot School“, published yesterday.

I am one of those parents who live in Bet Shemesh and sends my three girls to Orot Banot. Orot is a mamlachti dati torani school run by Shaalei Torah. The curriculum is comprised of limudei kodesh and general education. The Shaalei Torah organization has been a wonderful part of the Bet Shemesh community for over 20 years , focused on Torah education, kiruv, chesed and helping children at risk.

About our family. My wife and I made Aliyah to Israel in 1994. We are both products of the US Yeshiva day school education system. I am a graduate of Yeshiva University and of its post-graduate Chaver program, while my wife learned in Michlelet Orot, post high school. We have been living in the Sheinfeld neighborhood of Bet Shemesh since 1997. We B”H have five wonderful Israeli-born children, three girls in Orot Banot and two boys in the Shaalei Torah junior high school (both who are graduates of Orot Banim).

With the completion of the girls school this summer, the process started to move into the new building, which sits right next to the existing boys school campus. The new buildings were funded by the Education Ministry and were ear-marked for Orot by them as well as by the current and former Mayors of the city. The Orot Campus borders three national religious / traditional communities (Neria, Aviv and Sheinfeld) and also borders one Ultra Orthodox community (much of which is currently under construction). Our communities are comprised of many Olim from the US and other western countries, as well as many families who grew up in Israel, in general, and Bet Shemesh, in particular.

Unfortunately, recent events regarding the opening of the girls’ school as has been reported in the domestic Israeli press are quite accurate (national newspapers, radio and television). Our girls and spouses are enduring, on a daily basis, curses, spitting, egg and tomato throwing by so-called zealots, who believe that their actions are Torah sanctioned.  I’ve attached a link to video footage that was taken just today near the school at the site that many girls walk to in order to pick-up their bus home – [ALL VIDEOS POSTED BELOW]. I could have never in my wildest dreams imagined that fellow Jews can act that way to innocent 6-12 year old girls. No reason justifies the terror that these so-called zealots are inflicting on our children.

We were horrified as a community that so-called leading rabbis participated in  a rally aimed at supporting the zealots in their evil quest. I attach a photo that I took on Tuesday night (I took a big risk getting in that close, at their rally). Those who were on the stage are listed below in Hebrew.

מימין לשמאל: הרב נתנאל ברנדסדורפר מורה צדק [מו”צ]שכונת קנה בשם, הרב ברוך שמשון הגר רב ויזניץ-מונסי [עומדם ופניו לאחור], הרב רוך קליינמן רב שכונת חפציבה, הרב יחזקאל אלימלך כהן רב בשכונת קנה בשם, הרב מאיר הלר רב שכונת קרית חסידים, נואם מרדכי יהודה ויגדר מנהל רוחני ישיבה החסידית, הרב נתן קופשיץ רב שכונת נחלה ומנוחה, הרב בן ציון בייער מו”צ בשכונת ריב”ל, הרב יצחק טייטלבוים אדמו”ר מהוסקוב, הרב לייבל סובוביץ מו”צ, הרב לייבל ווייס מו”צ

There are those who claim that these rabbis were not aware of who they were supporting. The sad truth of the matter is that there is absolutely no way they could not know who they were supporting. What further is distressing to our community is that the local and national ultra-orthodox leadership and press is silent, while our children are being terrorized. One would think that during the month of Elul, as we approach Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, that the Charedi establishment would care, would be shouting STOP THE TERROR. But all we have is silence or public displays of support. As an anecdote, one of the men yelling in the YouTube clip at our girls is  the son of one of those rabbis on the stage.

I would urge everyone to be very careful to whom they are giving charity to in Israel, as the money may be landing in the hands of terrorists or, just as worse, those who are silently supporting them by not taking a stand.

Best wishes for a Shanah Tovah to all of Am Yisrael.

Sincerely,
Bill (Zev) Kessler
Bet Shemesh, Israel

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NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

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(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


36 COMMENTS

  1. This is one side of the story. I would like to hear the other point of view.

    Moderators Note: Please see the last line at the very bottom of the article: “DO YOU HAVE AN OPINION YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE POSTED ON YWN? SEND IT TO US FOR REVIEW.”

  2. How can we ask the world to be symapthetic to the matzav in Ertez Yisrael if this is how we act towards each other? How can we ask Hashem to save us from our enemies, when we really need saving from ourselves?
    What exactly does being a religios Jew mean: criticizing everyone else for their level of shemirat mitzvot, or holding ones self to a higher standard of behavior and tolerance?

  3. Video 8b explains very clearly their side to the story. why don’t you write that in the article?
    I happen to be on the side of the girls. BUT whether you agree with their opinion about tznius or not is irrelevant. Their Rabbi’s hold that a girl or woman who doesn’t cover her legs or feet is considered not tznius. they don’t want girls or women walking around not tznius in their neighborhood the same way you wouldn’t want a movie store selling inappropriate material to open up in your neighborhood. why is this so hard to understand??? The bottom line is that all the parents should get together and both sides should be angry at the establishment who created such a problem – the self hating JEW – Misrad Hachinuch…

  4. To No 4: shmoel. Funny how after reading the entire article (as Bill’s comments about Tzedkah were at the end of the article) you have no comment about the chilulel Hahem that is going on or about the silence coming from the Charedi community. Your only comments pokes fun at “Bill” for his name and comment about the Tzedaka. Remember, RH is around the corner followed by YK. We are all judged – including you.

    To No 2: Why don’t you come down here and see for yourself. I guess the video are not clear enough. Perhaps the little girls are dressed in bikinis and the violence is all justified.

  5. I’m sorry, Shmuel. There’s a lot more pritzus in Geulah than from those tzisiusdika neshamas in Beit Shemesh. Just observe the video and you’ll see. Certainly no Rabbi advocates throwing human excrement at these girls. These despicable protestors hiding their faces from the real issues facing Israel, such as Achmadinajad’s threat to wipe Israel off the map and the declaration of a Palestinian state. Then again, some of these extremist goons spent Shabbos with Achmadinejad. If they don’t like the pritzus, I suggest that they relocate to Teheran.

  6. #4 – Really? You may not want to hold people accountable for their actions and who they support. But HKBH will, and you like all of us will stand before the aibishter and need to explain why you supported those who sanctioned this outrage.

  7. Can someone describe in a nutshell what the Rabbi in the third video is saying to the non-chareidi yid? It appears from their conversation that he is not for the Chareidim who are protesting. I think.

  8. As someone who would be classified as “chareidi” (on the internet?) I am appalled at the actions of these hooligans. If I close my eyes it sounds like a bunch of braying donkeys.
    While I would probably have wanted to send my daughters to a “chareidi” school, after seeing this ugly display, I would probably transfer my kids to Orot Banot!

  9. The rabbonim are NOT supporting violence of these people Thay made a demonstration on their own bcz of the prietzes of the school Thay are NOT lowlifes and however these “oleh regel guys” are a bunch of prietzes and garbidge !!!!!

  10. #8 I have internet filtering that blocks the viewing of any type of video. I”m not justifying the zealots actions, But I would Like to hear their side of the story. The Rabonim involved don’t belong to the NK movement, nor to Toldos Aaron. There must be more to the story than what was published here.

  11. I’ve known Bill for over ten years, and if he told me that a Tzedaka was worthwhile, I’d definitely take his view into account. The knee-jerk reactions from people like #4 based on a name, especially when they have no real knowledge of the situation on the ground, does nothing to strengthen their cause.

    Bill – Kol HaKavod to you, from your accountant at two previous companies & fellow Beit Shemesh resident (you should be able to figure out who I am from that).

    K’siva V’Chasima Tova to all,

    an Israeli Yid

  12. It’s amazing how there are so many Rabbis with a view and then some guy none of us ever heard of who has a contrary view and all the people 6,000 miles away so strongly support this unknown writer! Just saying.

  13. Those who are interested in the ‘other side’ of the story, contact the Rabbonim involved and find out.

    Real Estate and School Buildings are prized possessions in Eretz Yisroel, not enough of them and at prime cost. This is an issue of CONTROL only, tzinius is a side problem. Read instead the story of the city of Holon, where harmony is the mantra of the city.

  14. I’m sure these living sirens have a good case to tell, and Tznius is subjective to background and they’re entitled to their standart.

    However, overall in these camps THE RABBONIM & ASKONIM DO NOT TREAT A VIOLANT MEMBER AS THEY TREAT ONE WHO WALKS WITHOUT A HAT IN THE STREET for instance, or Chas Vesholom sat in a mixed bus. The guys who are known to be violant, on the bus and on the streets etc., are not rebuked properly for it.

    this is a sad fact. The Robonim make little comments about violance that give the impression that it’s just for media purposes. And the overall message is: “We only care about ourselves, and any Jew from a different background doesn’t matter to us”…

    With all the good arguments they might have no one can deny this.

  15. Until recently I have taught in Beit Shemesh for 11 years. The last three years around the corner from this catastrophe. Anyone who raises their hand is a rasha. Anyone calling little girls names is worse than bizarre. Any school administration that would take a location like this are a bunch of fools. Any parent that would send their daughters there and subject them to such treatment are fools. The previous mayor, when this school was zoned, was a big trouble maker and did whatever he could to make problems for the charedim. As has been reported many times here in YWN, there is no equal treatment under the law here in Israel, especially if you are charedi or a settler. When wronged, there is no redress outside of demonstrations and making yourself so obnoxious, that it is not worth the other side’s time and energy to fight you. The anti-charedi elements in the government work through harassment, encroachment, and setting one group against the other. Less than 100 yards around the corner from where this building is there are huge tracts of undeveloped land not in the “charedi zone.” As bad, if not worse, than the screamers and tomato throwers is the Orot administration for letting themselves be used as pawns in this whole mess and agreeing to take this location. Maybe they did not anticipate as sick a reaction as they have received, but they could not help but know that they would be “thorns in the eyes” of their neighbors. We should all see our individual and general yeshuas and see an end to all this type of nonsense.

  16. Hey 21, Don’t be too proud. The Ramba”m says:
    קבל את האמת ממי שאמרו
    I’m not talking about the disput itself, but about the style…

  17. Any of you who are supporting these ‘protestors’ I am giving the benefit of the doubt because I cannot imagine that any of you actually think it is normal let alone correct for grown men who are supposedly getting paid to learn in yeshiva, to leave said yeshiva to throw eggs, tomatoes, scream and terrorize young girls of any dress. But so you know these girls are all wearing halachically tznius clothing- skirts at or past knee and shirts with sleeves usually at least to elbow. BUT EVEN IF THEY WERENT— MEN, JEWISH MEN are terrorizing these girls- breaking their widows throwing bags of poo into their school. How Dare you justify this?

    I know being in America it is hard to believe, I know because I couldn’t believe it either until I saw with my own eyes. Psychologists have to speak to the girls who are too afraid to go to school or to stay asleep.

    Please, for the sake of decency, understand that people do bad things and other people sanction it. These people want to control everything around them including these people who were there first and who worked and paid for years to put up schools for their kids. It is wrong pure and simple.

  18. Maybe it’s time they stop looking at little girls and go back to the beit midrash and find something constructive to do. And to whoever said the school is in a chareidi area, go back and learn to read a map. It’s clear that the school is not in a chareidi area.

  19. The school is in a chareidi area, because the previous mayor wanted to davka shtuch the Chareidim. They all knew it would be unacceptable to place girls who dress untznius in the neighborhood.

  20. Disclaimer: I do not agree with the type of protests shown in the first few videos, and I certainly denounce any usage of violence. That being said, I would like to make the following comments.

    After watching all of the videos, a few points become clear.

    1) In the videos that depict the “informal” protests taking place there is not the slightest bit of violence, intimidation, etc. The individual in video # 1 who was passionately stating his opinion (even angrily so) was clearly not addressing a little girl (like the written article would have you guess), rather it would seem that he was talking to the police officer who was – according to this video – shoving them without any provocation whatsoever. In the second video, if anything, it seemed as though the police were effectively serving to protect the protestors from being roughed up by the bristled onlookers.

    2) In the one video where a Charedi individual was actually given an opportunity to clearly state his views (kudos to the videographer for giving him that opportunity) he stated clearly that, “using violence (like throwing tomatoes, etc.) is despicable and disgusting”. He stated, though, that people have every right to protest what they perceive to be an affront to their ability to live their life the way they choose, whether one agrees with them or not – as the Dati-Leumi newcomer who he was speaking to in the beginning of the video stated that he is not ready to take one side or another, and yet the Charedi “spokesperson” thanked him for at least hearing him out.

    3) In the video of the organized protest, wherein the narrator states that the secular, female news-reporter claimed that she was spat upon, a) the video footage does not show that happening (just a bit of unclear action), b) any Israeli news agency that would send such a scantily clad (for Charedi sensitivities she is clad very scantily) female to a Charedi gathering (especially of such a nature) knows very well that they are intentionally being provocative.

    4) The first couple of videos that show the informal protests show about 10-15 men – in other words a very, very insignificant number for the Charedi population in that area that numbers in the thousands upon thousands. Why the onlookers would not just ignore such a paltry protest and simply go about their business (especially since the protestors were not looking at them, directly addressing them, or anything of the like) is quite puzzling.

    From all of the above, it would seem that:

    1) The overwhelming majority of the Charedi population (i.e. more than 99.999999999%) in that area are not involved at all with the day to day informal protests.

    2) The violence, “terrorism”, and “hoodlumism” mentioned in the articles (of YWN and the writer of this mailbag article) must clearly be being perpetrated by an extremely small number of individuals, if at all (so far, no clear evidence has been provided to corroborate the claim). Judging by the fact that the earlier videos show about 10-15 men, none of whom spat upon, threw objects at, screamed at, etc., etc. etc. at the girls passing by them, one can come to the conclusion that if such acts indeed took place, then they might have been perpetrated by one or two crazies once or twice in a month.

    3) It would seem that there are those who are intentionally making a mountain out of a molehill and blowing up issues way out of proportion. In as much as the content shown in the videos here does not show any violence, exactly what violence does Mr. Kessler and the editor of the YWN Israel desk want the Rabbanim to denounce? You didn’t witness any violence even though you were there watching the “action”, you just believed those who told you it took place; so, perhaps you should consider the fact that these Rabbanim most definitely did not witness any violence because they were not present at the informal gatherings to begin with! And, if you don’t go tell them about it, who will? The protestors who are not acting violently?

    4) The articles speaking about this issue have emphatically referenced our current proximity to the Yamim Noraim – the time when we will all pass before Hashem as He judges us. Well, allow me to remind you of a halacha that is stated in the Gemara and recorded in the Shulchan Aruch (and referenced in Seifer Chafetz Chaim 8:4) – “mevazeh talmidei chachamim” (denigrating Torah scholars) is a very, very severe sin. The list of Rabbanim in Mr. Kessler’s article most certainly includes those who are definitely defined as Talmidei Chachamim. As such, the very public, clearly negative implication that Mr. Kessler’s words cast upon these Rabbanim may very well amount to an extremely severe sin (and YWN would be accountable as well for giving the article a platform – the disclaimer at the end would not change this fact). Based on everything that I have written, you can see (if you will think about it honestly) that you have been way too rash in jumping to the conclusions about them that caused you to condemn them in the courtroom of your mind. I strongly urge you to correct the wrongdoing by issuing a public apology. And, then, if you are truly interested in hearing the truth – go to these Rabbanim and calmly discuss the issue with them. I am certain that you will be happily surprised to hear that they condemn violence and that they saw no reason to make such public proclamations a) because it is obvious to any rational individual, and b) because no such incidents were reported and/or corroborated to them.

  21. 25says, and others who agree:
    don’t pretend that you are such an expert, i live 10 minutes away from what is occurring and i can personally attest to the fact that there was egg throwing and name calling such as shiksa and zona to these girls, their teachers, and their mothers. the essence of the problem is not tzniyus, (if they knew any halcha they would know that according to the mishna brurah they are halachicky dressed appropriately) it’s chareidi vs. zionist, even if the school was for boys they would still protest. the whole attitude of the chareidim is disturbing. in essence many of them feel that it was the fault of the dati leumi for starting up which everybody with a shred of intelligence knows is not true. my question is where are the gedolim on this issue, why don’t they add there words of outrage?

  22. To #29. I am also a resident of Beit Shemesh and also a father of girls in the school.

    Re: Point #1. The person in video #1 has himself been identified as a person who has spit on girls and women and who has been involved in physical violence. I have seen it!

    Re: Point#2. Please do not insult “crazies” who can not control themselves. The terrorists perpetrating violence against our community are led by these very “rabbanim” you are trying to protect. Bushah ve’Cherpah!

    Re: Point#3. What you call “making a mountain out of a molehill” I would call terror and violence on our children. I have witnessed daily verbal and physical terror being aimed at our girls, boys and spouses. There has been daily egg and tomato throwing, as well as rock throwing (yes, a boy in the schoolyard was treated for injuries after being hit by a rock). With their public support of those terrorists, these “rabbanim” have taken a public stand against 420 innocent girls, whose only “crime” is going to school in their neighborhood that also happens to border an ultra-orthodox neighborhood.

    Re Point#4. I will pray for you this Erev Rosh Hashannah. I am not aware of any true Torah Scholars who publicly support those harassing and terrorizing innocent women and children. I pray to G-d that those condoning the terror against our children are wise enough to ask them for their forgiveness. Given the 420 school girls involved, I would urge them and their “rabbanim” to start now! It is only two weeks to Yom Kippur!

    Finally, on a personal note, Bill, hang there, you are not alone!

  23. As many have said, We are all Orot Banot!” No one has the right to judge any other Jew’s level of observance. To denigrate Jewish girls, to terrorize them daily by insulting them and throwing objects at them-simply criminal.For years the residents of Sheinfeld and the Kirya have lived across the street from each other. Likewise, Nofei Hashemesh was built adjacent to a currently under construction shchuna charedi. Even if the school buildings were given up-you still have the entire Nofei Hashemesh community-will they be terrorized next? It is what it is and there is nothing to do but learn to get along. No one is planning on moving away. Stop the ridiculousness-it is embarrassing!

  24. To “betshemeshjew” :

    The videos show a group protesting as girls and their mothers are walking and standing by. These protestors do not so much as give them a look; they simply continue with what they are doing, not paying the girls and their mothers (or fathers for that matter) the slightest bit of attention (and the poster of the video clearly felt that these videos were a good general representation of what is going on on a day to day basis). Furthermore, this group is of infinitesimal size compared to the broader Charedi community of that area. Clearly, then, these informal protests have nothing to do with – on the organizational level – the large protest featured in the last video.

    Furthermore, as I pointed out in my earlier post – the one Charedi who was given an opportunity to actually vocalize his position clearly stated that use of violence is despicable and disgusting.

    Why in the world would you assume, then, that the Rabbanim of the broader Charedi community of that area are supporting (in your words) the errant actions of a clearly tiny minority?

    Once again, I will remind you of the severity of the sin of being mevazeh talmidei chachamim.

    Why are you willing to gamble so much by jumping to uninformed conclusions, instead of just paying some of these Rabbanim a visit and calmly discussing the matter with them, and asking them – in a non-confrontational manner – all of your questions regarding what is going on?

    Like I said in my previous post, I don’t personally agree with the use of these types of protests in general as a means of attaining one’s goals, and I certainly denounce any use of violence, intimidation, etc. – but to assume that these Rabbanim are supportive of violence, etc. is simply preposterous, and to think that and then come to condemn them in one’s mind and in the written (public) word is an extremely dangerous move to make…

    So, like I said before – go to them and ask your questions and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.

  25. living in manhattan, i’vee considered walking aroung with a blanket gun and shooting a massive blanket onto every non completely tznis woman i see on the subway on my way to yeshiva. 🙂

  26. The pictures show married women dressed in all manner of broadly defined un-tzniusdik ways, uncovered hair, pants, low necklines etc. Spitting and screaming are undoubtedly wrong and not the attributes of yirei shomayim but then neither is walking around scantily dressed a Yiddishe virtue.