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0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem


“'Traitor!' Riot at graduation ceremony.

Dozens of extremist demonstrators tried to break into the graduation ceremony at the Strauss campus [1]. They waited outside the hall after the ceremony and screamed and cursed at those leaving. 'Scheigetz' and 'Maskil' [2] were only some of the curses hurled at the 45 graduates of the Haredi Strauss campus. […] Police forces were present but allowed the demonstrators to express their anger.

In addition to the graduates, their families and campus staff, the ceremony was honored by the attendance of Rabbi Eliyahu Schlesinger, the rabbi of Gilo, Deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus, Knesset member Michael Malkieli and city council member Yaakov Halperin.

This is the first graduating class of the Haredi campus receiving degrees in the fields of management, biotechnology and politics and communications. So it is possible that the college did not anticipate the protesters.

'It may not have been the smartest idea in the world to do the event in the heart of the Haredi neighborhood, and in retrospect it was also quite predictable, but we cannot feel threatened. My parents cannot be afraid of going out into the street trembling with fear of those extremists,' said one of the graduates.

Recently, the extremists began to demonstrate regularly, once a week, at the college entrance on Strauss Street, where about 700 Haredi students now study. 'We have become accustomed to the fact that the extremists are demonstrating, no matter what the Haredi level of the college is or what Rabbis support the campus, or that my Rabbi, for example, gave me his consent to study on the campus. There are those who apparently have to make a living from the demonstrations,' says H., a Hassidic yeshiva student whose curly sideburns do not betray the fact that he graduated summa cum laude. 'Now it is our responsibility to prove to the world that it is possible to have a degree and [still] be a G-d fearing person and that there is no connection between the two.'

– Kikar HaShabbat

0202 Editor's Notes:
[1] The Strauss campus is a Haredi branch of Hadassa College. Academic studies in Haredi society are relatively new and very controversial. Yet there is a growing number of Haredis who attend colleges and universities. Some extremist groups fiercely oppose this.
[2] Derogatory names used in Haredi society against people who are perceived as straying off the Haredi way of life, traitors, secularized, etc. "Scheigetz" literally means hoodlum or brat in Yiddish. "Maskil" is a Hebrew word for "intellectual" and refers to people who attain secular knowledge.

#Academia #Change #Extremists #Haredi #Higher_Education #Religion