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Apr 24, 2014

Survey shows most people dont hate haredim and dont care about them

I have not known what to do with this information. I have been sitting on it for a while now, considering it, since it was publicized right before Pesach, but I haven't known what to say about it.

Here it is.

A survey was conducted, by Israel's top pollsters, about haredi-hiloni relations. The results are found to be astounding by some, though it barely generated any discussion. Mishpacha dealt with it intensively in their Pesach edition of their newspaper-magazine, but besides for that, it went almost unnoticed.

Here is the salient points of the poll, courtesy of Channel 10:
* 90% think the Jewish identity of the State needs to be safeguarded
* 48% wouldnt care if their daughter married a gentile
*27% think their is nothing positive about the qualities of the haredi community
* 6% pointed out about chessed of the haredi community being unique
* 77% think that the lifestyle of the haredi community does nothing to help safegaurd the jewish nature of the State.
* 73% think Yair Lapid has not targeted the haredim in any way
* 85% are aware of the "million man rally" of the haredi community but nobody could identify the point of the rally
* 49% think the educational system doesnt do enough to safeguard the Jewish identity of the State
* 89% want their kids to know more about Jewish tradition and ancient Jewish values
* 63% think a minister in the government should not refuse to sit with haredim
* 82% of secular employers say they would hire haredim
* 93% think there should be dialogue between haredim and hilonim
* 77% of secular say they personally know a haredi person. 85% of those people have a positive impression of that acquaintance.
* 62% of workplaces dont have any haredim
* 62% of secular would not mind living in the same neighborhood as haredim
* of those that already live near haredim, 77% see no problem living near haredim

Mishpacha had publicized some more details from the survey, and they all pointed to the same trend. Most people are basically ambivalent to the Haredim. People care about them very little. there is very little hatred towards them. Mostly ambivalence and unfamiliarity.

I have not known what to say because this poll basically supports everythign I have always said about haredi-hiloni relations. The hilonim, largely and with exception, don't hate haredim. They don't know about them, they don't think about them, they dont care about them. But they dont hate them.

This reminds of something I was once told in the name of a Reform Rabbi who personally became Orthodox (in Chicago). He was asked what, from hsi days as a Reform rabbi, they had thought of the orthodox community. His response was that they rarely thought about the, He said the Orthodox are such a small percentage of the Jewish population that they are basically irrelevant. At times, issues came up, but on a day to day basis, people just did not think about them.

Mishpacha dealt with the ramifications of the survey, exploring the whys and hows of what to them was surprising information. They did come to one interesting conclusion - that almost all haredi pr and publications are only internal - nobody else is getting the message. All that Haredi PR is almost completely "patting ourselves on the back".

A lot of blame for perceived hatred was heaped on the media and some activists.

One thing I think they did not broach, and I think this might be a large part of why the haredi community thinks they are always under attack, is politics. Specifically haredi politics.

To explain briefly, I have been in Israel over 25 years. I do not remember a single election in which the haredi politicians did not campaign on the theme of this being the most important election ever with the entire israeli system ready to attack the haredim and their lifestyle and everyone must rally around the haredi party to protect the community. I think, in addition to blaming others who have some part in the role of the perception of hatred and anger, haredi politicians bear some blame as well. They rile things up, even if just internally, creating an impression of victimhood, in order for people to rally around them.




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the end of the story


sometimes you hear a story, maybe follow it for a while, and then you don't hear the ending. Often you don't hear the ending. This post is nothing more than the ending of an old story.

A few years ago, Life in Israel followed the story of a haredi couple that competed on "The Biggest Loser". The stated goal of Fishi and Mali Berkovitz was to lose enough weight to conceive a child. They competed, even under much communal criticism, and made it to the late rounds of the show.

And that was the story. After they were eliminated, we never heard from the again. Or at least I didn't. Like most contestants in reality tv shows, they went their way and were quickly forgotten.

The end of the story just came in. I saw a notice online somewhere that Fishi and Malki just gave birth to their first baby, a boy, after 10 years of marriage.

Mazel tov.



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Extremist thugs in Bet Shemesh destroy shul

In what is perhaps one of the most insane things I have seen in a fairly long time, extremist thugs went berserk and destroyed a shul in Bet Shemesh.

If I leave it at that, you might be left with the impression that it was the shul hosting a womens minyan, or perhaps a shul of "amalekites" - aka dati leumi, or perhaps the shul of some egalitarian group.. but that would be wrong. They destroyed a haredi shul, hassidic shul specifically, in the haredi neighborhood of Nahala uMenucha (a.k.a. the kiryah haharedit).

According to Kikar, here is what happened...
The "Nitra" shul, formerly a Satmar shul, is a shul used only on Shabbos. For some unknown (to me) reason, this shul has been targeted by some local askanim as one that should be shut down.

According to the claims, the shul was being used during the week, unofficially of course, by bochurim who would sit there surfing the Internet on their iphones and other non-kosher cellphones. At some point, one of the askanim got the keys and decided he would make surprise visits to see what was going on and catch them in the act.

The other day, this askan went into the shul on one of his surprise visits and caught a group of bochurim using a laptop.

I find the rest of this irrelevant, because what exactly they were doing makes no difference in whether or not he was justified in vandalizing, actually destroying, the shul. But, to continue the story, they claimed the laptop had no internet access, and was actually the personal laptop of the Admor of Nitra - they claim to be doign work for the admor, organizing his divrei torah.

The askan reportedly went berserk when he saw them on the laptop. When they showed him what they were doing, he screamed at them that they are ruining the neighborhood and all the tragedies that happen are because of them. He then went berserk and smashed windows and destroyed the entire shul (you can see some video in the Kikar article).

The Admor of Nitra, when he heard about the incident, cried about it and cursed the people who destroyed the shul with an "unusual death".

Best comment I heard? On Facebook, from DK:
They came for Orot, and noone protested, then they came for Satmar, and there was no one left to protest...
As well, from Ben, maybe it is time some rabbonim consider the weight of their words when they talk about how bad iphones are. This is over the top, and is, at least partially, a result of the demonization of the iphones and their users..

Hopefully this will be the straw that breaks the camels back and maybe their own community, or those right around it, will finally do something about it...




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terror and fear on Har Habayit, and police are helpless (video)






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Bennett: Judea, Samaria Key to Israel's Security (video)






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Lapid: do the Palestinians really want a state? (video)

it looks like even Yair Lapid, who threatened to leave the coalition if the peace negotiations would not be consistently in motion has come to the realization that the Palestinians are not really interested...




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Hatikva at Bergen-Belsen (video)






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Yitzchak Meir Helfgot sings V'LYerushalayim Irecha Kosovitsky (video)


sefira alert, though I consider this "tefilla" rather than "music"




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Apr 23, 2014

Unsafe park equipment raises calls about Modiin being anti-haredi

Modiin has had its share of up and downs in its relationship with its haredi neighbors of Modiin Ilit... Famously, Modiin tried to ban non-residents (i.e. haredi residents from nearby Modiin Ilit) from its beautiful park, Park Anabe, though that did not work out too well.

Leading up this Pesach, Modiin announced that the park equipment in Anabe would be closed to the public for safety reasons (as per the instructions of the Standards Institute)- some of the equipment had been damaged and was falling apart and had yet to be repaired.

Sure enough, some idiot has come up with a theory that "safety" was really just a ploy to keep haredim out of the park. By the end of Pesach vacation, the warning signs had been removed, prompting the theory that the entire time there were really no safety issues but was simply an attempt to keep haredim out of Modiin.
source: Kikar

The person quoted with this conspiracy theory asks if it was a safety issue, why couldn't the city fix it in time for the holiday vacation. Little does he know, that is not how cities work. They fix things a) when they get to it and b) when they have money for it. Not necessarily when it would make sense to fix. We have park equipment in Bet Shemesh for years that has been broken and remains unfixed, despite multiple vacations coming and going where it would have been nice to have those items fixed in time. Eventually the city gets to it.. or it does not.

Most surprising in this article is that it was written at all. If the fellow was an engineer or a safety expert and was making such a claim, that would be one thing. But he is not, or at least he is not quoted as being an engineer. This fellow is just an average person who probably knows nothing about equipment safety and had no opportunity to inspect the equipment. Yet he made his claim. And Kikar turned it into an article, validating his claim (to a certain extent).

Pointing it out on Facebook to friends in Modiin, it turns out the equipment was really unsafe, had been closed for a bit before Pesach, and already during Pesach it was reopened to the public and plenty of Haredim were there enjoying the equipment. As well, a number of other parks with wooden playground equipment were also shut down by the Standards Institute for being unsafe.

So, it seems this guy in Modiin Ilit had a bad day, picked the wrong day to go to the park, came up with a silly theory, and Kikar ran with it.



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Tzfat residents fight about Shabbos

I had not realized how bad the situation had gotten in Tzfat, with the secular and Haredi communities opposing each other.. until recently the heated pool was opened on Shabbos. This led to protests by the Haredi community.
source: Kikar and Kooker

When that happens, everybody hunkers down in their positions, and the fight escalates. Eventually, a solution and compromise will most likely be found, probably with the pool being closed on Shabbos, but in the meantime it is a fight.


The fighting has even gotten bad enough that the police have arrested one of the members of the Committee for Safeguarding Shabbos, for possible incitement.
source: Ladaat

Will Tzfat become the "next Bet Shemesh" with sectors fighting each other over their lifestyles?



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a Soloveitchik visits Har Habayit


Many articles, starting with the Jerusalem Post and followed by Matzav, YWN and VIN, have written about the Har Habayit "riots" over the holiday that caused Jews to be removed from Har Habayit and basically closed the site to Jews.

Pointed out was that Rabbi Meir Yaakov Soloveitchik, Rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel, was visiting on Har Habayit with Rabbi Chaim Richman at the time and had to be evacuated after just two minutes.

What was not pointed out, and is more interesting to me, is that a Soloveitchik was on Har Habayit!

The Soloveitchik family is one that is very careful and connected to its traditions. This is true of both the American branch of the Soloveitchik family and the Israeli branch.

The Soloveitchik family, along with many of their followers, is famous for its approach on the Kotel area, where they stay away from har Habayit and don't even touch the stones of the Kotel, lest they inadvertently "enter" Har Habayit by even the slightest amount, due to the indentations of the stones or the angle of the construction (with Har Habayit beginning at the point most outward with the stones being built slightly further in, at each higher level).

That means, that Rabbi Meir Soloveitchik made a very significant move away from that tradition, which is very unusual. I don't think it is bad, and I definitely respect his decision to visit Har Habayit, but I find it interesting that he did - and this interest was was my first reaction when seeing his name associated with Har Habayit.

I find this aspect of the visit far more interesting than the discussion of how long his visit was or that he was evacuated from the Mount.

I did email Rabbi Soloveitchik about this curiosity, and await his response.



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ancient chisel discovered near Kotel

It has been reported, first by Haaretz (at least, first from among the articles that I have seen), and now by others including INN, about a newly fascinating archaeological discovery of an ancient chisel that was likely used in the construction of the Kotel, the Western Wall.

From INN:
An astonishing archaeological discovery has been made at the feet of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The find is an ancient chisel, which apparently was used by the builders of the Western Wall of the Second Temple.
Archaeologist Eli Shukrun, who managed the excavations and found the rare tool, told Arutz Sheva that the chisel is "a moving discovery." He noted that the ancient chisel, which is made of metal, is 15 centimeters (six inches) long.
"For the first time, after 2,000 years, we have a tool of the builders of the Kotel (Western Wall)," remarked Shukrun, who has dug in the City of David and the Temple Mount area for the Israeli Antiquities Authority for 19 years.
The find was reportedly made under the Davidson Center Archaeological Park right by Robinson's Arch, just to the south of the Western Wall Plaza, reports Haaretz.
Shukrun has been digging in recent years in tunnels that lead from the City of David, go under the Old City walls and end at the Western Wall, which were essentially drainage tunnels for the Temple Mount.
The chisel was likely dropped by a builder working higher on the Western Wall according to Shukrun, who found the tool in a quarry refuse heap under the Western Wall.
While the find was made nine months ago, the Antiquities Authority has reportedly not publicized the find yet until final results are received.
"The Antiquities Authority is waiting for the research results on the material as is done with the rest of the finds made in excavations. When solid and firmly based results are received, the Authority will address the matter," added the statement.
However, Shukrun was certain of his find.
"I have no doubt that this is connected to the time of the Kotel's construction. We found it at the base of the Kotel, roughly six meters (20 feet) below the main street of Jerusalem at the time of the Second Temple," remarked Shukrun.
"The coins we found in that area and the ceramics point to the period of the building of the Kotel. The chisel itself was found in a refuse quarry which was made for chiseling the Kotel stones," added the archaeologist.

While it sounds like an exciting discovery, it doesn't actually sound quite as dramatic as they are making it out to be.

I am sure the archaeologists know what they are talking about, but from the published information, it sounds like they are basing their statements largely on assumption and guesswork. They found a chisel so they are assuming it was from someone on a scaffolding who dropped it. Nice assumption, but maybe it was also from a worker doing work down below, or maybe work on a structure near the Kotel, in the marketplace along the side of the Kotel or from a number of other options. I wish they would publish more significant information about their conclusions rather than just assumptions.



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Yisrael Chofshit wants Jewish culture off the air


Israeli TV's Channel 1 news has been running a daily "sefirat ha'omer" clip of about 2-3 minutes with a daily explanation of some aspect or custom of sefirat ha'omer.

here is a sample video:


and another:


I think they are nice clips.

The "Yisrael Chofshit" organization has protested the airing of these clips, saying it is religious coercion and is insane that State TV is airing this.. as if the ayatollahs have taken over television. The focus was on one clip that discussed the customs of not performing weddings during [some of] the days of the Omer period, while most of the clips are more historical in nature and less "halachic".

Personally, even if they all contained some point in halacha or custom, I would see nothing wrong with State TV airing these clips. A very large portion of the citizens of Israel are religious or traditional, and there is nothing wrong, in my opinion, (as long as there is no separation of shul and State in Israel), with State TV dedicating a few minutes to a timely issue, even if it is religious in nature. State TV did not make demands of the populace to count, to refrain from getting their haircuts or whatnot - it just ran a clip explaining a timely custom. Some people will be interested in the 3 minute clip, and some people will not be interested and will suffer the 3 minutes of Jewish culture.

I don't see it as anything worthy of protest.

In the end, the head of Yisraelk Chofshit apologized, after being lambasted on the radio and "losing a debate", though he said he had not looked into the entire program but was especially upset about the specific clip that discussed the customs of refraining from marriage during that time period - and he should not have criticized the entire program.
source: Srugim

While the apology and retraction is a start, I disagree with him even on that point. Even on the clip explaining some of the halachic customs, there is nothing wrong with transmitting some Jewish culture and explanation to thousands of religious and traditional viewers. And maybe there are even some non-religious viewers who are interested in learning more about Jewish culture.


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#WeAreHere Commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day With the IDF on the Internet (video)






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Uri Bank presenting alternatives to the Two State solution - European Parliament, 21/3/14 (video)






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Yom HaShoah 2014 (video)






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