How an unlikely pair of religious-secular activists stopped the zealots in Beit Shemesh.
Beit Shemesh, Israel — Little Naama Margolese brought them together.
On the surface they were an unlikely pair: Dov Lipman, an American-born “modern haredi” rabbi-educator who lives in Beit Shemesh, and Mickey Gitzin, the secular Israeli-born head of Yisrael Hofshit (Free Israel), an organization that works toward pluralism and against religious coercion.
This week I was honored to deliver the Cape Town, South Africa, community-wide keynote address for Yom Yerushalayim. Hundreds gathered together in a powerful celebration of the liberation of Jerusalem 45 years ago (28th of Iyar 1967). I was reminded of the power of Jerusalem to unite the Jewish people.
My son Joel, age 7, and my daughter Talia, almost 10, lean on my shoulders, staring at the computer screen in disbelief. Here was something that didn’t fit their notion of the world. Grown men spitting? At a child? Because her long skirts weren’t long enough? A sincere and sweet boy, Joel wondered if these men, these ultra-Orthodox lunatics of Beit Shemesh, in Israel, had ever read the Torah.
But ceding religion-state issues to ultra-Orthodox parties has been a disaster.
Special To The Jewish Week
In recent weeks my head has been full of the angry voices of my friends and partners in the United States — leaders of the American Jewish community, allies and comrades-in-arms in the great task of strengthening the bonds between Israel and the Jewish people worldwide. They are angry about the same things I am angry about.
Three haredi Orthodox men were arrested for assaulting a woman in Beit Shemesh.
On Tuesday, the woman was hanging posters for Israel's national lottery when the men reportedly surrounded her car, slashed her tires and stole her car keys. A stone thrown at the car hit the woman in the head.
Police helped the woman and arrested three suspects, Ynet reported. Other attackers reportedly fled the scene and are being sought by police. The woman filed a complaint with the police.
A number of years ago the Agudath Ha-Rabonim, a relatively small group of right-wing Orthodox rabbis, declared that Conservative and Reform Judaism were "outside of Torah and outside of Judaism.” Much has been written to justify and rationalize their statement. I found it offensive, but for argument’s sake let’s say they are right – more importantly let’s say that in fact they are the true spokespeople for the application of halacha (Jewish law).