Admor of Toldot Aharon
In the middle of Februaray Shmuel Pappenheim, a Toldot Aharon Hassid who has been working to help Haredim get into the workforce, was beaten up by members of his synagogue when he attempted to go to Friday night prayers. They were angry about an interview he gave to HaAretz at the end of last December (2011). The attack began with demands he leave his shul, followed by name calling. When he refused to leave, the attack became physical. He was beaten all over his body, resulting in a broken shoulder.
So often rabbis in the Haredi community are unwilling to take a stand, but not this time. The Admor of Toldot Aharon called for the community to distance themselves from the attackesrs and convened a special meeting of the community council. According to Tzedek-Tzedek , reporting several days later,
The Toldos Aharon rabbinic leadership has come out strongly against the attackers and are implementing sanctions against the attackers.
Abuse is never justified and it is good to see Jews taking a stand.
On Tuesday morning , children arrived at the Max Rayne Hand to Hand school in Jerusalem to find graffitti painted on the outer wall of their school building: “Death to Arabs!” and “Kahane was right!”,. The Hand to Hand school is run by the Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel. It provides K-12 education to a religiously and ethnically diverse student body that includes Arab and Armenian Christians, secular and traditional Jews, as well as Muslim students. Its curriculum integrates peace education with regular academic studies.
That same morning at a Greek Orthodox Monastery in Emek haMatzleva (valley of the cross), near the Israel Museum, someone had painted “Death to Christains!”, “Jesus drop Dead!”, “Kehane was right”, “Price Tag” and “The Macabees of Migron” on two cars and a stone fence outside the monastery The car tires were also slashed. The Jerusalem Municipality removed the graffiti by 9AM.
Those working at the monaster were upset, but determined to stay true to their religious convictions. One of the priests at the monastery, Father Claudio, told reporters “I am a priest. I will forgive.”
Police are investigating both attacks. They suspect that both attacks were the work of settlers but they don’t know if they are connected to each other. Evidence pointing to settler involvement include the slogan “Price Tag” and the allusion to Migron painted on the monastery walls. The Israeli government is forcing the evacuation and demolition of the Migron settlement against the will of its residents.
These two attacks come on the heels of a wave of suspected settler attacks against Palestinians in Jerusalem and on the West Bank.
- Saturday night or early Sunday morning (February 5) vandals vandals slashed the tires of a taxi and painted “Death to Arabs!”, “revenge”, and “closed military zone” on a taxi and the steps of a house in Al-Janiya near Ramalla. (Sources: Reuters, Jerusalem Post)
- The previous Thursday, February 2, settlers in K’far Etzion slashed tires of Arab cars and threw stones at passing cars in retalization for earlier stone throwing by their Arab neighbors. (Source: Kol haYehudi)
- Also on Thursday, February 2, the tires were slashed on Seven Arab cars in Jerusalem in relation for property damage in the settlement of Mitzpeh AviChai. (Source: Kol haYehudi)
- Wednesday, February 1, in Tzir Gilead in the West Bank, a 60 year old Palestinian woman was hit in the head when settlers threw stones at passing cars. Many of the cars were also damaged. The stone throwing was in retaliation for two Israelis who were lighly hurt by Arab stone throwing. (Source: Kol haYehudi)
Some of these incidents, like the K’far Etzion attack are part of an on-going feud with a neighboring Arab village. One could argue that both sides are acting abominably and giving as good as they get.
However, it is hard to make that case for the attacks on the school and monastery in Jerusalem. Read more
Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, the head of the Ponovitch Yeshiva, a leading Haredi Yeshiva in B’nei Brak, has taken a strong stand against hatred of hilonim. A week ago he delivered an address to his students where he insisted that even hiloni soldiers will get a share in the world to come:
“גם חילונים שאינם שומרי תורה ומצוות, אם הם מוסרים את נפשם על הצלת אחרים מתוך אהבת הבריות יש להם עולם הבא כמו הרוגי לוד שמסרו את נפשם לטובת בני העיר“
Even hilonim that aren’t observant of torah and mitzvot, if they are willing to give their lives to save others for the love of fellow human beings, they will a share in the world to come, just like the people of Lod who gave their lives for the city.
This raised the ire of some of the ‘kanoim’ (religious zeolots). They called him to task afterwards and demanded he explain himself. In response he went even further, and told his students: Read more
The Jewish Federation of North American (JFNA) has issued three statements about Jewish religious extremism in Israel.
JFNA issued a statement condeming extremism on behalf of all US federations on December 27, 2011.
JFNA acted quickly after the Arutz 2 (Channel 2) expose of Beit Shemesh that featured a little girl in Beit Shemeh terrorized by religious extremism. On December 27, 2011, JFNA issued a statement “Jewish Federations Condemn Wave of Religious Extremism and Violence”, spoke of the contrast between the actions of the extremists and the Judaism of “darche noam”: Read more