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Monday, January 16, 2012

Just Before The Riots

Yesterday, as I was peacefully strolling from the Shmuel Hanavi junction to downtown (center) Jerusalem, I began to notice more and more chareidim gathering on the street the closer I got to Kikar Shabbat (Square.)  I figured that some important rabbi had just died and they were getting ready for a funeral.  My cell phone is a telephone only, so I couldn't check the internet and didn't think it important enough to warrant a phone call. 

There aren't any big chareidi rabbis whose funeral I would attend, so I really didn't see the point of finding out what the occasion was.   Also, women don't join the mobs/crowds in those neighborhoods, Me'ah She'arim, Geula etc.

Then I realized that the crowd seemed a bit too young and tense for a funeral, and the police were gathering, too.  I debated taking pictures.  Years ago, photographers were routinely attacked in those neighborhoods for daring to make human images.  But things have changed.  I saw lots of people (yes, young chareidim) taking pictures, another reason I began to doubt that it was a funeral, so I very discretely whipped out my camera for just a couple of shots.

Over to my left, from Me'ah She'arim, I noticed a large garbage bin had been set alight.  That was a good reason to pick up my pace and get to the safety of Jaffa Road as quickly as possible.

Soon after I made it out of there rioters took over the streets of Geula and Me'ah She'arim protesting the arrest of crooks, con artists, who have been stealing from charities.
Violent demonstrations took hold of the capital’s Mea She’arim neighborhood on Sunday afternoon, following the arrest of six haredi men earlier in the day. The men were arrested on suspicion of embezzling charitable funds, money laundering, tax evasion and other tax offenses.
It really bothers me that there's a Pavlovian protest/riot reaction among the chareidim against the authorities when one of them is arrested.  They should be angry at the crooks, not the police.  It's obvious that they can't police themselves within the community.  Stealing from charities, abusing power etc are all against the Torah.  Full beards and long black coats can hide a multitude of sins. 

There are many good, sincere, Torah and G-d loving people among the chareidim who should be outraged at the corruption of the few.  Those men I saw on the streets and who rioted later on should have been busy studying and praying that their friends repent.  There was no excuse for the riots and damage to public property.


Shy Guy said...

Did you escape via the women's sidewalk?


Batya said...

Hah! They wouldn't dare touch me! I'm an old lady.

Hadassa said...

Ethics of the Fathers 2:2 "Rabban Gamliel the son of Rabbi Judah HaNassi, says: Torah study is good together with an occupation,for the exertion of them both makes sin forgotten. All Torah study that is not joined with work will cease in the end, and leads to sin." Artscroll translation
Unfortunately in recent years we've seen the outcome of not following Rabban Gamliel's advice. Do any hareidim think about how none of the Talmudic Sages that they so earnestly study lived off the dole?

Batya said...

Hadassa, thanks
No doubt that the chareidim are just as selective about the halachot they follow as the Reform, Conservative etc.

Yes, I consider the one Hadassa mentioned, plus derech eretz etc, helping the old/infirm-including opposite sex to be important mizvot.

ellen said...

Certainly we've all seen an increasing number of Chareidim contributing to this country everywhere and in every way in the public, private, and social sectors. A lot have taken the lead with regards to worthy and efficient charitable, educational and social projects. And there's successful and honest business entrepreuners, medical and legal professionals among the black hats and beards (and plenty of working
women),too. Let's be fair.

I like to chalk up this mess, within the Chareidi sector, to growing pains. It's a transitional stage as they struggle to find their way and their place in Israeli society. We've seen rioting like this before - remember the Israeli black panther riots of the early 1970's?

The police should get the idiots and thugs off the streets. Hopefully that will make room for some articulate spokepersons
(likely spokesMEN)who can state
their case in a civil manner.

Unfortunately the incredible silence of the Chareidi rabbis is a bit deafening.

Anonymous said...

heh. that picture was of *american* yeshiva kids studying in israel!

esther said...


why would you automatically assume that the charedim arrested are guilty? even without the historical enmity between police and mea shearim, and media spin factor, is it not an obligation to judge on the side of merit when yirei shomayim are accused? the chofetz chayim said all manner of lashon hara are found in newspapers. does that include blogs?

Hadassa said...

IMHO the blog is more about the riot, not about the accusations, which indeed have not been proven. Is this a normal reaction for Torah observant Jews to have when accused of such offenses? They should be devoting their energies to proving the innocence of the arrestees.
Yes, we should "judge on the side of merit", however, unfortunately the offenses mentioned are by no means unknown in the community in question, which should be setting an example for all Jews.

Batya said...

a, there are two pictures up. One isn't of young American kids. And if those young guys are American kids, then their parents may want to transfer them to a yeshiva from which they won't have such activities.

Ellen and Esther, There's no need to burn the trash bins in reaction to an arrest. As Hadassa said the community should be trying to prove them innocent. It's a well-known fact that there's a lot of corruption in fund-raising. American (non-Jewish) npo's give terribly high salaries to its top employees and a very small percentage of the money raised goes to its stated aims.

Hadassa said...

I would say that one shouldn't burn trash bins in response to an arrest of this sort. If due process isn't followed during an arrest, or the charges are simply beyond ridiculous, then protests are in order, although burning trash bins in your own neighborhood probably isn't the best means of protest.
In this case the charges were "common" white-collar crimes. If it's difficult to prove that the men are innocent, there's a big problem in the accounting department(s?) of the charity(ies?).

Batya said...

Let it first go through channels for a bit to see if the police did their job. There was no reason to demonstrate on the streets. Do those people who rioted and ordered the demonstrations know something the police didn't.