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0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem


Digest on the effects of the Growing Haredi Population in Jerusalem

"The new ‘Heder’ [kindergarten and elementary school] in Jerusalem was inaugurated at the Rabbi’s house. In the past decade, the Neve Ya'akov neighborhood in Jerusalem has undergone a transformation, with Haredi families streaming into the neighborhood. As a result of the great need [for more Haredi schools], a new ‘Talmud Torah’ [1] was opened, to be named 'Torah and Wisdom.'”

– Kikar Hashabat

"The war against the Haredis: The synagogue was desecrated and the ‘Eruv’ [2] was destroyed.

A shock to Kiryat Yovel [3] in Jerusalem •After a rather quiet period in the mixed neighborhood, two secular people broke into the synagogue of the Sephardi community. The people who arrived for the morning prayers were shocked to find the synagogue painted in red spray paint, sprinkled on the walls, Shabbat tablecloths and books. The yeshiva students tried to continue the Shabbat [4], and only after Shabbat ended did they report the incident to the police. A forensics lab was called in to try to identify the perpetrators who desecrated the holy place. And if that was not enough, the perpetrators even climbed the posts of the ‘Eruv’ and tore down the strings, disrupting the residents of the Beit Vegan and Kiryat Yovel neighborhoods. […]

'A few weeks ago, the subject of the eruv arose again. So maybe that's why they came to rip the eruv [strings] and desecrate the synagogue. I do not know why they chose our synagogue, but maybe because it's close to the eruv,' says one of the synagogue members. He said: 'We are a synagogue that is not involved in all the conflicts and confrontations. Everyone comes to pray in our synagogue.'

The yeshiva students say that 'Rabbi Yehuda Dayan, one of the Yeshiva's rabbis, asked those present not to inflame the situation, because there is [already] tension in the area and, thank God, secular residents are slowly being strengthened by the community and everyone will repent [5].'

MK Michael Malkieli [of the Haredi 'Shas' party] responded to the pogrom by saying: 'The time has come to say we have had it with the hatred harming the Jewish holy places for which Jews have given their lives [to protect] for generations. And to all those who seek out the Haredi who doesn’t stand during the siren [6], in order to attack our entire community, where have you disappeared to now? Your silence is as serious and worthy of condemnation as those [who cause] controversy and malice […] – shame on you.'"

– Kikar Hashabat

0202 Editor's Notes:
[1] Talmud Torah (lit. Studying of the Torah) is the term used for the educational institutes in Haredi society that include kindergarten and elementary schools.
[2] ‘Eruv’ is a ritual enclosure that, according to Jewish Orthodox law, must be constructed in order to allow one to carry items outdoors during Shabbat. Generally speaking, the eruv is made by setting up poles with strings running along the tops in order to surround a set area, thus creating a unified domain in which carrying would then be permissible. While Jerusalem (and all cities in Israel) has a general eruv, some Haredi communities set-up a local one in their neighborhood. This sometimes causes antagonism by other residents who see this a symbol of the Haredi influence on the neighborhood. They also may claim that the poles and strings ruin the local scenery.
[3] Kiryat Yovel is a neighborhood in Jerusalem. While it used to be a predominantly secular neighborhood, in recent years more and more Haredis are moving there as it is adjacent to the Haredi neighborhood Bayit Vegan. This is the cause for conflict with some of the secular residents who feel threatened by the neighborhood's change of character. The Haredi residents argue that it is only sensible that the neighborhood adjusts to the natural change, accomodating each side’s needs for public facilities.
[4] Unless there is a life endangering situation, calling the police is forbidden on Shabbat as this would cause a chain of actions that are prohibited on Shabbat (such as driving, using a phone, and more). Hence, the students waited until Shabbat was over before reporting the incident to the police.
[5] ‘Strengthen’ and ‘repent’ in this context are terms used to describe the process of gradually becoming more religious.
[6] This is referring to the controversy regarding some extreme Haredis not standing solemnly during the Holocaust Remembrance Day and Memorial Day sirens. For more on this topic, see: https://bit.ly/2r8sHz0

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