The Haredi Spring is coming to an end — and not a moment too soon. In the recent election in Israel, the majority rose up and called a halt to the process of haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, Jews playing a dominant role in the government coalition while resisting national service. Requirements for army service and incentives to work instead of living on welfare are now being discussed in the Knesset. The haredim have reacted by insisting that their way of life and privileges were sacrosanct and could not be reined in by the democratic process. In truth, they have never seemed comfortable with real democracy.
How welcome, Rabbi Yitz Greenberg’s call to Modern Orthodox leaders to speak out for a new, better order at the Kotel (“Time For Modern Orthodox Leaders To Speak Out On Kotel Proposal,” Opinion, April 26).
I just got back from Israel. I went as a kind of pre-state pilgrim, but the circumstances and the trappings of the trip were hardly old-fashioned, or pious. My ever-generous in-laws wanted to show off their grandchildren at a wedding thrown by olim relatives, so the grandchildren’s parents got to come along.
Thousands of haredi Orthodox held a prayer rally to protest the forced enlistment of yeshiva students.
The early Monday morning demonstration by men, women and children was organized by the Eda Haredit organization in Jerusalem. Participants reportedly read psalms and lamentations.
The protest came as the Plesner Committee was meeting to find an alternative to the Tal Law, which grants military exemptions to haredi Orthodox Israeli men. The law is set to expire next month, and it is believed the committee will call for the required draft of haredi Orthodox men.
When I first heard that a rally was planned for Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews to protest the Internet, I didn’t think it would attract much attention. After all, the Internet has long been under attack in Haredi communities and their rabbinic leaders have forbidden it in the past.
For liberals and centrists, a growing fear of Orthodox power.
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The 15-year-old daughter of an Israeli friend announced to her parents that when she gets older she will leave Israel. “The religious are taking over,” she said. “I don’t want to be treated like a second-class citizen, and anyway I want to live in a democracy, not a religious state.”
“I didn’t have an answer,” my friend said.
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