Posts Tagged ‘Haredi’


Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men rally near the northern city of Haifa on Dec. 9, 2013, following the arrest of a young man who refused to serve in the Israeli army. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Via The WP

Two days after giving birth, Reut carefully swaddled her fifth child and took a taxi from the hospital to a shelter for victims of domestic abuse.

It was a journey filled with complicated emotions.

Vulnerable and scared, she was heading to an unfamiliar place but finally was escaping more than 10 years of humiliating verbal, physical and sexual attacks by her husband. He was so controlling, she said, that he even decided when she could use the bathroom, which forced her to wear diapers.

Reut’s story might not be so different from many other cases of domestic abuse. But what sets it apart is that Reut grew up in Israel’s deeply devout and insular ultra-Orthodox community — and is willing to talk about her experience so that other women like her know there is a way out.

Suffering for nearly a decade, Reut said she believed it was God’s way of testing her.

“I thought if I endured, I would find a better place in the world to come,” said Reut, 32, who spoke on the condition that her full name not be used.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews, also known as Haredim, make up roughly 9 percent of Israel’s Jewish population of 6.5 million. But with women having an average of nearly seven children, the community is expected to grow rapidly.

Haredim are exempt from military service, and many shun work to focus on religious studies. They largely segregate themselves from the rest of society. That presents a challenge for the Israeli government, which would like to see them sharing the national burden.

Changes are happening, but slowly. More Haredim are signing up for the army, and an increasing number of Haredi women are working outside the home, giving them more contact with the rest of the world.

In turn, abused women such as Reut are realizing that they have options. And they are starting to seek help.

“Domestic violence is universal — it happens in every part of society. But we have noticed an increase in the number of Haredi women seeking help in recent years,” said Ayala Meir, director of the family services department at the social welfare ministry.

Reut and her children moved to Jerusalem to one of only two shelters in Israel dedicated to Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish women. It is set up to accommodate their dietary and religious needs.

Run by the nonprofit organization Bat Melech under the auspices of state welfare authorities, the shelter will soon expand from 17 spaces to 24.

There is already a waiting list.

Between 15 and 20 Israeli women are murdered each year by their partners, but Meir said religious women have not been included in those statistics until now. In one grisly case this year, a husband said he had been directed by God to kill his wife and walked through the neighborhood with her severed head in his hands.

“The community is difficult to penetrate. It is very insular — they try to solve problems inside the community,” said Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. He said the police can get involved only when someone complains or provides information. Often people do not complain.

“All abused women worry about leaving their husbands or breaking up the family, but in the Haredi community, it is even harder. The community lacks understanding, and the women can pay a high price,” said Orly Tobolski-Hadad, spokeswoman for Bat Melech.

Often, they have no one to whom they can turn. Discussing marital problems with, say, a girlfriend or mother is viewed as inappropriate.

Rabbis and community leaders tend to turn a blind eye to the abuse, fearing it might damage their community’s reputation. In some cases, violent husbands and their abused spouses are counseled to stay together and work out their “differences.”

“There are good people in the Haredi world, but when it gets to domestic violence, no one wants to know, and the rabbis do not have the time or tools to deal with it,” said Heidi Moses, a lobbyist for women’s rights who grew up in the Belz Hasidic sect. “When a woman complains, she is told she must have dreamed it or that she must give in more in bed, then her husband won’t be so frustrated.”

Moses, the daughter of an ultra-Orthodox Knesset member, Rabbi Menachem Eliezer Moses, said she became estranged for a while from her family after she divorced her husband.

In Israel, rites of passage are overseen by religious authorities. For Jews, the rabbinical authority or rabbinical courts grant divorces.

One woman at the Bat Melech shelter said her former husband was instructed by the rabbinical authority to work it out. She spoke on the condition of anonymity because he continues to stalk her.

“He went there and said he still loved me, that he did not mean to hurt me,” said the woman, a mother of three. “They said he had one month to try to win me back.”

“I just can’t understand why they would try to set someone up for the cycle of violence again,” she said.

For Reut, family intervention eventually saved her from her husband’s abuse. When she became pregnant with their fifth child, he sent her out to work as punishment. Her mother stepped in to care for the other children and noticed something was very wrong.

With the help of her family, Reut devised an escape plan: She would wait until the baby was born, then go straight from the hospital to the shelter. Her mother would bring the other children.

For the next 40 days at the shelter, Reut rested and began to deal with the trauma of her abuse.

“My husband used to make me leave the hospital straight after each birth. He immediately put me back to work,” she said. “It was amazing — I didn’t really know what it meant to rest, because I didn’t have any for 10 years.”

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Almost 50% Of Israeli Haredi Middle Age Men Have An 8th Grade Education – Or Less

Haredi men walking

Haredi men have very poor educations, as the new State of the Nation report by the prestigious Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel shows. And that low educational level cripples haredim and makes it very hard for them to enter the workforce.

 

 

 

Haredi men education level Taub 2013

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In the chart immediately below, “great yeshiva” means yeshiva gedolah – a yeshiva with classes starting in 9th grade:

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The entire haredi section of the Taub Center’s report as a PDF file:

Download Taub EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT IN THE HAREDI SECTOR section of national report 2013


Updated: Haredi Rabbi Lies About The Holocaust – Again

Meir Wikler

“According to some experts, between 50%-70% of those murdered by the  Nazis, were “traditionally religious Jews.” There is no reason to assume  the percentage of survivors who were religious was any less.”

Meir Wikler Rabbi Meir Wikler

Yad Vashem only honors Holocaust’s secular victims Haredim have authored their own Holocaust history books, developed their own curricula to teach it to their children and are building their own museums to memorialize the martyrs.

By Meir Wikler • Ha’aretz

When Yad Vashem in Jerusalem opened its new wing, known as The Holocaust History Museum, in 2005, it was much ballyhooed as a state of the art, multi-million dollar Holocaust museum to top all others. While praise for the new museum wing has poured forth from dignitaries and laymen, the unified opposition of so-called ultra-orthodox, or Haredi Jewry, has stuck out like a sore thumb. Why have Haredim been so upset?

While Jewish religious life before World War II is illustrated at the museum, the testimony of haredi survivors is largely missing.

According to some experts, between 50%-70% of those murdered by the Nazis, were “traditionally religious Jews.” There is no reason to assume the percentage of survivors who were religious was any less. But in the rooms of Yad Vashem only one of the 50-60 video monitors playing taped testimonies of Holocaust survivors shows a Haredi Jew. By choosing to record and display taped testimonies of mostly secular Jews, Yad Vashem is giving a distorted picture of the religious affiliations of the survivors. This gives the false impression that few ultra-orthodox Jews survived the Shoah.

The spiritual heroism of the Holocaust is almost completely overlooked. The abundant examples of incredible courage to study Torah and perform mitzvot despite unspeakable suffering and incredible hardships are relegated to footnote status and all but eliminated from the museum. The clandestine yeshivot and Torah study groups in the ghettos, the lighting of candles on Channuka, the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashana and the daily donning of tefillin in the concentration camps – all under the penalty of death – are not mentioned at all.

The massive rescue work of Haredi Jewry has effectively been purged from the historical record of the Holocaust as presented by Yad Vashem. Rabbi Michoel Ber Weissmandl, for example, and the heroic efforts of his Working Group, are impugned and dishonored. Instead of crediting them with successfully delaying the transports from Czechoslovakia by bribing and outsmarting the Nazis, the paragraph written about them makes it sound as if they were the ones who had been duped.

Yad Vashem’s responses to queries on this subject have been disappointing. At one meeting, the Yad Vashem representative requested that the discussion be kept “off the record.” The institution’s written responses to published critiques have attempted to obfuscate the issue. The spokesperson cited, for example, the online services available to the Haredi community. They also pointed to the special Orthodox division of their tour guide training school and they emphasized how many Orthodox students make use of Yad Vashem archives for research purposes.

Yad Vashem’s underlying motives for all of this are open to speculation. Some Herdim believe that Yad Vashem feels that dealing more favorably with ultra-Orthodox Jews is antithetical to their secular, Zionist agenda. Others see this as a reflection of the anti-Haredi bias of some segments of secular Israeli society. And still others suspect that Yad Vashem simply suffers from the, “We know best,” mentality, so prevalent today in Jewish establishment circles.

However, there have been a few improvements made to the new Museum wing. For example, the immodest pictures of victims which were originally on display when the museum opened have since been removed. In addition, while the new building opened with no videotaped testimonies from any Haredi survivors, now there is one.

Unfortunately, these changes fall far short of what is needed. As the premier Holocaust museum under Jewish auspices, Yad Vashem dishonors the memory of the six million by continuing to present a distorted and incomplete record of the Shoah. No, not all those who perished in or survived the Shoah were Haredim. But many more Haredim did survive than the 2% represented by the one videotaped testimony currently on display.

In spite of the extremely rare but highly publicized Haredi use of Holocaust imagery against the State, the overwhelming majority of Haredim today take Shoah remembrance seriously. Yad Vashem, however, is seen by many as irrelevant. As a result, Haredim have authored their own Holocaust history books, developed their own curricula to teach it to their children and are building their own museums to memorialize the martyrs.

If many ultra-Orthodox Jews see Yad Vashem as irrelevant, why are some so outspoken in their criticism of the new Holocaust History Museum? Millions of visitors, both Jew and non-Jew, stream through Yad Vashem each year. The vast majority of them would never visit a Holocaust museum under Haredi auspices. Yad Vashem needs, therefore, to make further corrections to the new building for those visitors. And world Jewry must insist on it.
Yom HaShoah observances are designed to memorialize the martyrs. Nothing would honor their memory more, however, than being remembered as they would have wanted. We cannot save a single life that was lost in the Holocaust. We can, however, protest the distortions at Yad Vashem that dishonor the memory of religious victims because they can no longer do that for themselves.

Dr. Meir Wikler is a Brooklyn based psychotherapist, author and lecturer.

Meir Wikler is dishonest. He’s also a fool.

As I noted in May of last year in response to an ‘interview’ of Wikler in The Jewish Week [the quotes are from that ‘interview’ but are similar to what he wrote now above]:

1. “At least half, if not more, of all survivors were haredi.” This is complete hogwash. At the dawn of WW2, 2/3 of Warsaw’s Jews were  secular. The number of secular Jews was even higher in Paris, Amsterdam  and Denmark. And most of Budapest’s Jews were secular, as well. Even  smaller cities like Munkatch had large secular populations. And all  these areas had large populations of what we would call Modern Orthodox  or Zionist Orthodox Jews, as well. The vast majority of Europe’s Jews in  1939 were secular or non-haredi Orthodox. There are to my knowledge no  studies, no academic research, and no evidence to back up Wikler’s  claim. But there is much evidence against Wikler. Satmar, Bobov,  Klausenberg, Chabad and other American hasidic groups were broken by the  Holocaust. Most of the people who today call themselves hasidim are  descended from people who were secular or non-haredi-Orthodox after the  Holocaust, but who were recruited by hasidic leaders, many of whom had  difficulty getting a quorum for prayer in 1946.

2. “The description of Harav [Rabbi] Michoel Dov Weissmandel,  of blessed memory, [who led an effort to save Jews from the Holocaust]  depicts him as having been naïve and duped by the Nazis. The truth is  just the opposite. He was a brilliant rabbinic leader who outwitted the  Nazis at every turn.” All available evidence shows Rabbi  Weissmandl – the Slovakian rabbi who was courageous and tireless as he  tried to save Jews from the Nazis – was, in fact, duped by the Nazis and  achieved little. The only way to interpret the evidence differently  (besides lying, of course) is to say that the Allies would have allowed  American and Palestinian Jews to give the Germans tens of thousands of  trucks and other war supplies in exchange for Jews in the middle of war  they were fighting against those Germans

3. “There are videotaped testimonies of only two haredi  survivors in the New  Wing of the museum. Compared with the 50 or 60  testimonies of  non-haredi survivors, it gives the mistaken impression  that hardly any  haredi Jews survived, and by extension, that haredi  Judaism did not  survive the Holocaust.” I’ve known dozens of  Holocaust survivors on three continents. They include parents of  friends, Jewish communal leaders, Holocaust educators, simple Jews, and  even a Nazi hunter. Only one or two could be honestly described as being  haredi after the war. Before the war that number would be four or five,  at best. What Wikler does is define haredi in terms so broad the word  no longer has meaning. Therefore anyone with a onetime connection to the  haredi community, no matter how tenuous it may be – even if that  ‘connection’ comes from grandparent’s affiliation only, or even if that  ‘affiliation’ comes from Wikler defining non-haredi Orthodoxy as haredi  for the purpose of his argument – is defined by Wikler as haredi. That  pumps up his numbers and allows him to  lambaste Yad Vashem for, in  effect, following the normative definition of the word and then acting  on it. On top of Wikler’s behavior, there is the overall behavior of the  haredi community that did survive the war. Their leaders generally  refused to cooperate with Yad Vashem, which means haredim are  underrepresented there – but not to the degree Wikler claims. The fault  is not Yad Vashem’s – it is Yoel Teitelbaum’s and the other haredi  leaders who refused to cooperate with it.

4. It isn’t just that haredim do not commemorate Yom HaShoah. For  years, they did things that flew in the face of it, just as for years  haredim refused to stand still and be silent for the one minute of  silence observed for Israel’s fallen soldiers.

Past all this, Wikler ignores key facts that surely influenced and continue to influence Yad Vashem:

A. Haredim propagated and continue to propagate the most base and  bizarre conspiracy theories to ‘prove’ Zionists collaborated with the  Nazis and to delegitimize Israel. The ‘facts’ these conspiracy theories  are based on are largely false, and the little that is true is taken out  of context. They do this because the existence and success of the State  of Israel is an existential threat to the validity of their theology.

B. Any fair representation of haredi behavior during the Holocaust  must include the behavior of hasidic rebbes who ordered their flocks to  stay in Europe and then fled, leaving their followers to die horrible  deaths. The Satmar Rebbe did this. So did the Belzer Rebbe and his  brother. So did the Lubavitcher Rebbe.  And then there was Rabbi Elchanon Wasserman, a non-hasidic haredi  leader who forbade his followers from fleeing Europe, even telling  students not to accept offers to study at Yeshiva University in New  York. Wasserman hated YU because it was Zionist and because it was  Modern Orthodox. On a visit to New York, Wasserman himself turned down a  teaching position there and went back to Lithuania. He and many of his  students were killed by the Nazis shortly after.

C. There were rabbis – some haredi, some hasidic, some Modern or  Zionist Orthodox – who refused to leave their followers and accompanied  them to the killing fields and death camps. Most of them who survived  came out of that hell as Zionist or Zionist leaning.

D. Scholars who study the haredi reaction to the Holocaust –  including at least one haredi academic, Esther Farbstein – note that  haredi rabbis’ strong opposition to Zionism before the war, coupled with  Israel’s subsequent success and the poor behavior of the rabbis noted  in section B above, largely account for the haredi community’s rejection  of Holocaust studies and Holocaust memorials and its ambivalent and  sometimes hostile relationship with Yad Vashem. And, as I noted in  section A above, it is this cognitive dissonance that is the foundation  for the bizarre anti-Israel and anti-Zionist conspiracy theories common  in haredi communities.

Wikler lies with appalling regularity.

The sad thing is that haredi leadership and the haredi rank and file don’t even care.

Update 12:22 pm CDT – Here’s Yad Vashem’s response to Wikler’s lies:

Yad Vashem responds: We do pay tribute to Holocaust’s ultra-Orthodox victims Meir Wikler’s op-ed that the museum is biased toward the secular Jews who perished in the Holocaust is full of misinformation, writes Yad Vashem spokeswoman. By Iris Rosenberg • Ha’aretz

Meir Wikler’s latest article on what he perceives as bias against Haredim at Yad Vashem is replete with misinformation.

For example, Wikler says there is only one testimony of a Haredi survivor in the Holocaust History Museum; this is not true. He claims that blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, donning tefillin, lighting candles on Hannukah “are not mentioned at all”. Again, this is false.

Rabbi Weissmandl and the Working Group’s efforts, under impossible circumstances, to rescue Jews are respected by Yad Vashem and all the guides trained here. It’s unfortunate that Wikler chooses to see insults and slights where none exist.

To state that “spiritual heroism of the Holocaust is almost completely overlooked” is wrong and misleading, demonstrating a perception unrelated to reality. Yad Vashem seeks to meaningfully impart the story of the Shoah in all its complexity and variety with a special emphasis on spiritual heroism. The activities of Yad Vashem – its museums, exhibitions, online material (viewed by over 12 million people last year), educational approaches, publications, and more – prove the contrary.

Wikler says that Haredim have authored their own Holocaust history books, developed curricula and teach their children. Indeed, for nearly a decade, an ultra-Orthodox department in Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies has been working closely with Haredi educators and leaders to prepare educational material such as the multi-volume textbooks Years Wherein We Have Seen Evil in Hebrew and English and seminars – at Yad Vashem and elsewhere – serving Haredi educators and students throughout Israel.

Sincere dialogue between Yad Vashem and the leadership of Haredi Jewry and their representatives over the years has resulted in productive educational activity with the Bais Yaacov and other Haredi educational systems, and many Haredim participate in seminars at Yad Vashem, in genuine partnerships with Agudath Israel of America and the Belz community in Israel, to name just a few.

To claim, as his headline does, that “Yad Vashem honors only Holocaust’s secular victims” is outrageous and can only be a result of an unfounded bias.

I invite Haaretz readers to join the hundreds of thousands of people, including Haredim and other Jews and non-Jews of all backgrounds, who visit the Holocaust History Museum, and other sites at Yad Vashem, and experience it for themselves.

Iris Rosenberg is the Spokesperson at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.


Israel is in the midst of a culture war

The right has been in power for a long time now, and now, in its 35th year in government, in the 64th year of the state, it has turned to the task of reshaping the country’s character and faces almost no opposition.

By Gideon LevyTags: KnessetIsraeli ArabsHaredimJerusalem

Anyone who says this is a matter of a few inconsequential laws is leading others astray; anyone who claims a reversible procedure is being deceptive; anyone who states reassuringly that this is a passing phase is trying to put one over. Even the person who thinks it’s just an attempt at regime change is under a delusion. What we are witnessing is w-a-r.

This fall a culture war, no less, broke out in Israel, and it is being waged on many more, and deeper, fronts than are apparent. It is not only the government, as important as that is, that hangs in the balance, but also the very character of the state. Our way of life is about to change, from cradle to grave. For this reason, it could be the most pivotal battle in the country’s history since the War of Independence.

We always knew that a few years without an external threat could strain the delicate seams: When the guns go silent, the demons roar. But no one predicted such an outburst of demons of every kind, all at once. The assault on the existing order is an all-out war, on every front; a political tsunami, a cultural flood and a social and religious earthquake, all still in their infancy. Those who call this an exaggeration are trying to lull you to sleep. The defeats and the victories up to now will determine the course of events: In the end, we will have a different country. The pretension of being an enlightened Western democracy is giving way, with terrifying speed, to a different reality – that of a benighted, racist, religious, ultranationalist, fundamentalist Middle Eastern country. That is not the kind of integration into the region we had hoped for.

The ferocious combined assault is highly effective. It targets women, Arabs, leftists, foreigners, the press, the judicial system, human rights organizations and anyone standing in the way of the cultural revolution. From the music we listen to, to the television we watch, from the buses we ride to the funerals we attend , everything is about to change. The army is changing, the courts are in turmoil, the status of women is being pelted with rocks, the Arabs are being shoved behind a fence and the labor migrants are being forced into concentration camps. Israel is barricading itself behind more and more walls and barbed-wire fences as if to say, to hell with the world.

There is no single guiding hand mixing this boiling, poisonous potion; many hands stir the revolution, but they all have something in common: the aspiration to a different Israel, one that is not Western, not open, not free and not secular. The extreme nationalist hand passes the antidemocratic, neofascist laws; the Haredi hand undermines gender equality and personal freedoms; the racist hand acts against the non-Jews; the settler hand intensifies the hold not only on the occupied territories but also deep into Israel; and another hand interferes in education, culture and the arts.

You can’t see the forest for the trees, and the forest is dark and deep. Take, for example, Friday’s paper. The news pages of Haaretz reported on a few such rotten trees: the managers of dozens of businesses in Sderot have begun requiring their workers to dress modestly; in Mea She’arim, the polling places are gender-segregated; nonobservant Jews in Jerusalem have been asked to wear a kippa at work; Carmiel’s Palmach School has been turned into a religious school; discrimination against Sephardic girls at schools in Jerusalem, Modi’in Ilit, Betar Ilit and Bnei Brak; withdrawal from a physicians’ training program for Palestinians as a condition for tax relief; the government’s new plan to fight illegal immigration. And one final touch: The foreign minister gave his imprimatur to the Putinist election in Russia. All in a single day, one ordinary day.

In 1948 the state was established, and in 2011 a war is being waged for its never-crystallized character. In between these two years, the state has been rocked by waves of immigration, by different governments and by contradictory trends, and throughout loomed the threat of war and other external dangers. Various islands formed, some of them beautiful, and sometimes it seemed as if an open, enlightened country was taking root. Now that belief is on the verge of being shattered. The right has been in power for a long time now, but it lacked the self-confidence to launch this crucial assault. But now, in its 35th year in government, in the 64th year of the state, it has turned to the task of reshaping the country’s character and faces almost no opposition.

We’ll meet again in a few years, in that other Israel, that will be different and distorted beyond recognition.


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