Burning Down Our Own Neighborhoods Again

letter-447577_1280

When I wrote my previous pieces about the violence surrounding the Gay Pride Parade, I was unaware of a recent incident that took place while I was out of the country. A clothes store in Geulah was burned down by unknown parties who presumably felt that some of the apparel being sold did not conform to their standards of tznius. This particular clothes store is owned by the wife of a rosh yeshiva in one of the better known yeshivos for American boys.

In response to this incident and the aforementioned violence, I’m told that there are now wall posters up in Meah Shearim, in the name of the BaDaTz, basically telling the local hooligans that they do not have carte blanche to do whatever they want to enforce proper standards of tznius, or anything else, and must consult with rabbonim. Among other things this demonstrates how difficult it is to put certain genies back into the vessel once they have been unleashed.

Last week someone sent me a first-person account of an alleged incident, in which a woman riding the number 2 bus from the Kotel after davening at the Haneitz Minyan describes how she was roughed up by four men after she declined their request to move to the back of the bus. The account mentioned that she was from Har Nof (my neighborhood), and when I did not find her name in the Har Nof directory, I briefly entertained hopes that the whole thing was a fabrication. No such luck. Last night, she called me and we spoke for nearly an hour.

The woman in question is a fifty-year old grandmother who was visiting Israel from Canada, and studying privately with one of Eretz Yisrael’s most esteemed women teachers of Torah. While in Israel, she davened at the Kosel every morning. At least the broad outlines of her story were confirmed by a friend of my wife’s who also davens regularly at the Haneitz Minyan.

According to what the victim told me, this incident will be the subject of a lenghty article in the coming Weekend edition of a left-wing paper (I would guess Ha’aretz) and features prominently in a petition asking the Supreme Court to review Egged’s “Mehadrin” separate seating bus lines (the bus in question was not officially Mehadrin). (Too bad the victim did not follow her host’s advice and call me before going to the media.)

When I asked her what she hoped to gain from the publicity of this incident, the victim told me that she wants the rabbinic leaders of those who shoved her, punched her in the face, and took off her hair covering to tell their followers that they must treat people decently. I would guess that news of the Ha’aretz story, and even the Supreme Court petition, are unlikely to reach those rabbis or the perpetrators of this attack.

I keep coming back to the same sociological insight: The more insular we are — the more cut off from any Jews not exactly like ourselves — the less we are to think of Torah in terms of hora’a, teaching, and ask ourselves how our actions comport with the teachings of the Torah and what impression our actions are making on those who will judge the Torah by our behavior.

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85 Responses

  1. Steve Brizel says:

    I think that ChuL posters and even visitors to EY should think twice before voicing on this issue. During our recent visit to EY,I sat in the rear seat of a sherut with a Charedi gentleman on my left and my wife on my right. Why on earth would I seek to upset his modus viviendi?! I noticed zero evidence of strife on this issue on any of the many buses that we rode at all times of the day through many Charedi neighborhoods. While there are buses to Charedi communities such as Bnei Brak from Jerusalem that are gender-separated, I was a passenger on a bus to and from Kiryat Sefer where I sat next to my wife withoutb anyone saying anything to us on this score.On many, if not all of the Egged routes within Jerusalem that pass through Charedi neighborhoods, the sensitivies of Charedim on this issue were recognized without incident. In fact, on one such bus,which was clearly not a “Charedi route”, but which passed through many such neighborhoods, I was invited to sit next to a Charedi man so that he would not have to sit next to a woman. I saw it as a matter of simple derech eretz to agree to his request. One wonders why the victim herein simply should have relied upon the old rule that “discetion is the better part of valor” , thereby avoiding the entire incident. WADR, the notion that the victim is the Rosa Parks of Jerusalem cannot be sustained by anyone familiar with the daily operation of bus routes in Jerusalem.

  2. Ahron says:

    One point needs to be clarified: Separate seating on busses is not a “hiddur”. There is nothing mehudar or “beautiful” about it. It is simply a chumra, an extra stringency–to call it “hiddur”, beautification, is to manipulate a word into a totally irrelevant euphemism.

  3. HILLEL says:

    Dovid:

    NeTzachToni! You’re a better man than me.

  4. dovid says:

    HILLEL: I brought proofs for my position from secular newspapers, because they have no axe to grind in favor of hareidim, so we can reasonably assume that they properly reported etc.

    Dovid: Two problems with this statement. (1) They have no axe to grind in favor of hareidim. But they have a big axe to grind against Hareidim. Therefore, they never properly report news related to the Hareidi community. (2) In one breath you reveal that you read secular newspapers and call yourself one of the original followers of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zichrono l’vrechah. If you ever were, you stopped being one. The Rav fiercely objected to secular newspapers. He stated this many times. Ha’aretz is notoriously anti-Jewish and anti-Israel even to secular Jews and it is against everything that the Torah community holds dear. Jerusalem Post, while striving for the center of Israel’s secular political landscape, it will not hesitate to publish articles profoundly hostile to the Hareidi community. For “balance”. They also publish Jonathan Rosenblum’s articles. For “balance”. Jonathan used to have his column every week. They cut it down to once every two weeks. (For “balance”. There was just too much k’dushah.) They also publish a Palestinian’s anti-Israeli musings. This is again for “balance”. JPost is the consummate politically correct Israeli publication. Don’t read it.

    One more issue. This discussion started off with the incident in the bus about separate seating for men and women. You hostility toward the woman in question appears to have been fueled by your belief that separate seating is a good thing, which it is. If that’s the case, let’s take a quick look at the benefits of separate seating. There are many but the most obvious one is shmiras eynayim. If shmiras eynayim is so important to you, that you defend four males beating up a woman and calling her names, how come you have no objection to reading secular newspapers which are replete with pictures of barely clad women. Jerusalem Post for instance places such pictures among other places, side by side with Jonathan Rosenblum’s articles. This must be for “balance”. Tumah geneged taharah. The Alter of Slobodka urges you not to be a fool. I urge you: Don’t fool yourself! Reb Yid, you can’t have it both ways. A piece of good news. Yated Neeman publishes Jonathan Rosenblum’s articles without JPost’s pritzus add-ons.

  5. HILLEL says:

    To Dovid:

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    I brought proofs for my position from secular newspapers, because they have no axe to grind in favor of hareidim, so we can reasonably assume that they properly reported her obnoxious behavior vis-a-vis the hareidim on the bus.

    In fact, people did speak up. They told her that she is Meshuga!

    I’m one of the original followers of Rav Miller, ZT”L, and I agree with your prescription–Don’t be a fool!

  6. dovid says:

    HILLEL: Were the “Hareidim” who assaulted her on the bus the official representatives of the religious community in Eretz Yisroel?

    Dovid: YES. The other riders’ remaining quiet in the face of such an avlah, rendered these “Hareidim” the official representatives of the religious communities all over the world. This proves that silence is not always gold.
    HILLEL: Her crime is much, much worse than theirs, because she is assaulting the entire Hareidi community.
    Dovid: This is not true. Those “Hareidim” brought disrepute on all of us. Whether frum or not, this woman was sitting in her place by right.
    HILLEL: Frankly, based on her reaction, I question her commitment to authentic Torah Judaism.

    HILLEL: Thanks for linking the Haaretz article on this incident. My conclusion, after reading it is that this lady has a credibility problem…

    HILLEL: Here is a factual article from the Jerusaelm Post on …

    Dovid: Based on your comments, you Hillel, have a much greater credibility issue. You went out of your way to prove that the woman in question is not observant, an impostor, or that she may even be an agente provocateure (lashon nekeva in French, lashon harah in all the other leshonos). First of all, you did not convince me and hope didn’t convince the readership that she is all that. For argument’s sake, let’s assume you are right. Then, her going to Ha’aretz would be consistent with the character that you described her. The massive lashon harah that you engaged in is not compatible with authentic Torah Judaism. Furthermore, you read Ha’aretz and Jerusalem Post and bring proofs to your position from them. Both publications are incompatible with authentic Torah Judaism. Ask people smarter than you and me on both issues. They will confirm it.

    The authors of several comments were skeptical of the merits of separate seating for men and women. I think we should try to implement it. Separate seating is a fence against a serious averah, it’s a hidur that will earn us tremendous benefits in olam haze and olam habah. While men are the main beneficiaries, women would also stand to gain. I remember Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zichrono l’vrechah, asking in the name of the Alter of Slobodka: What’s the first mitzvah in the Torah? He answered, again the name of the Alter: The first mitzvah is: DON’T BE A FOOL!!! The implementation of the separate seating policy requires thought. Convenience to ladies needs to be factored in because they carry many bags and push carriages with little children. Security should also be considered. We make fools of ourselves and deserve the resulting bad press if we leave the implementation of this hidur mitzvah to bullies bent on advancing their agenda.

  7. SM says:

    This woman was struck by someone because she did not do what they wanted. There is simply no way that such actions are permissible. What happened to her was criminal in any system and any language. The offender should be punished because society has its own interest in ensuring that people don’t feel they can hit other people.
    That’s the end of the debate, surely? In what other circumstances would people like to defend criminals? In what other circumstances is so-called “provocation” – which in this case is no more than someone doing something you don’t like – a justification for violence? That is the language used to justify suicide bombers – it is exactly what Palestinians say about Israels’ existence – it stinks when they say and it stinks equally when we say it.
    The entire debate is an enormous chillul hashem – simply enabling non-dati’im to point to a lack of morality within the observant community. Even if (and it is a big if) the rabbonim of the people on this bus had publicly ruled that a man could not sit with a woman it would never justify violence.
    Unsurprisingly, rumours abound that the lady in question is “not all there” – as if that did not make the fact that she was attacked worse! Of course, no one is prepared to put their name to such rumours and yet people would rather believe anonymous gossip than confront reality. The Chofetz Chaim owuld be ashamed of some of the comments above.

  8. Michael says:

    I read the blog and some of the comments. “Feminism?” “L’hachees?” Were those comments labelling her and criticizing her actually serious? Even assuming the worst about this woman’s motive, intent, etc… Even assuming that the labels are accurate… Doesn’t the Torah give her the right not to be threatened? Not to be touched? Doesn’t the Torah prohibit one from attacking another under circumstances such as these? Doesn’t the Torah protect an individual’s bodily integrity?

    As to the comments that she provoked them by refusing to move: That is depraved. That is what men who beat their wives say and tell themselves. That is also what victims of repeated physical abuse convince themselves.

  9. HILLEL says:

    To All:

    Here is a fauctual article from the Jerusaelm Post on the 11 Egged Mehadrin bus lines:

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1164881792994

  10. HILLEL says:

    To: Yehoshua Friedman
    If you read the very next paragraph after the one describing who got in touch with her, you will see that she is cooperating with them and keeping up the contacts:

    Quote from the Haaretz article:
    “In the coming month, IRAC(Reform Judaism group) will be submitting a petition to the High Court of Justice against the Transportation Ministry over the issue of segregated Egged buses. IRAC attorney Orly Erez-Likhovski is in touch with Shear and is considering including her in the petition.”

    She also cooperated with the reporter from the anti-Hareidi Haaretz newspaper in publicising her story form use in a “hit piece” against Hareidim.

  11. yoiki says:

    I have heard from people who know this woman that she is not playing with a full deck. They say that you cannot believe a word that comes from her mouth (or pen).

  12. Ori Pomerantz says:

    To add to Yehoshua Friedman’s comment, the bus driver’s testimony is suspect because of three factors:

    1. Bus drivers pay attention primarily to what is happening outside the bus. Those who don’t get into accidents and don’t stay on their jobs very long.

    2. The bus driver may be disciplined for ignoring an attack on a passenger, so even if he witnessed such an attack it would be in his best interest to try and keep it quiet.

    3. The bus driver probably drives #2 bus in Jerusalem every day. He will have to interact with the alleged attackers again.

  13. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    I read the Haaretz article. It did not say that the victim was working with the leftist organizations mentioned, only that they approached her. I understand perfectly why those leftists, knowing their ideology, would want to take legal action against mehadrin bus services, but it is far from clear that the victim is in the same category. Why there was only one witness who spoke up would be clear, knowing that the hareidi public has a justified reticence toward exposing itself to any secular law enforcement body. Why the cameraman was so ready to jump when this happened is something that has no explanation except either total coincidence or provocation. If anyone has a way of finding out who the cameraman was, that could help.

  14. Rivka W. says:

    “I believe along with most of the readers that the initiative of and the purpose for separate seating are praiseworthy and should be pursued.”

    I do not believe that most of the readers DO believe this. I personally find the segregated buses extremely bothersome, burdensome, and offensive. On those buses which are actually “mehadrin” (and I disagree with the term, but that seems to be the semi-official one), I sit in the back when I have to ride them — and I will avoid taking them in the first place when that is an option.

    The #2 is not designated as such, and when I have ridden it I have sat wherever a seat was available. As on any bus, in any country, if someone (male, female, whatever) has asked me to give up my seat, I have usually done so. My theory is that if someone is asking for it, they probably need it more than I do. (Exceptions are when I was pregnant or very tired.)

    My understanding of the halacha is that the obligation is on men. Why then with these buses does the acharyis seem to fall on women?

  15. Ori Pomerantz says:

    The Talmud (Bava Metzia 58b) states: “כל המלבין פני חבירו ברבים כאילו שופך דמים” – whoever whitens his fellow’s face (with shame, I assume) is like one who spills blood.

    G-d never gave us impractical advice, such as “love your enemies” or “turn the other cheek”. The Torah clearly states that society has to have standards, and that those standards need to be enforced. There are cases when spilling blood is appropriate.

    Was this one of them? If Israel had been a Torah society, if Beit HaMikdash was open to sacrifices, if a Sanhedrin ruled the land – would this woman had been put to death? Even if our Sanhedrin wanted the title of “a killer Sanhedrin”, and made sure to execute a person every seven years to get it, is this woman truly the worst sinner in the last seven years, the one most deserving of death?

    If not, then isn’t acting like this a sin, even if she insulted first? A wiser course might have been to ignore her, or to start talking about tzniut and the wisdom of gender segregation is buses and hope she’ll get the hint. Or maybe one man could tell his fellow that he can’t take his eyes off of her, and he knows it’s bad to be sexually attracted to a woman who is not his wife.

    Of course, Hillel’s scenario might be right. It is even possible that she wished to provoke an attack, so she can justify going to court and canceling the Mehadrim lines. Of course, if that is the case then those Haredi men acted exactly as she manipulated them to do.

    Most Israeli Haredi men spent years in Torah study. Isn’t Torah study supposed to teach one how to control the Yetzer in the face of temptations (such as provocation), as well as the logic required to not act according to the plan of somebody who manipulates you to his or her benefit?

  16. Bob Miller says:

    Ref: Comment by Ori Pomerantz — December 18, 2006 @ 4:07 pm:
    “Rancor might be a necessary ingredient in this discussion. Confusion is not”

    Ori, if the people who have rancor are also confused, wouldn’t that reduce their ability to cause damage?

  17. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Everybody, please stop referring to other comments by their numbers, because those numbers change with time. The blog software shows comments in chronological order, but only if they have been approved by our host or you are the one who submitted them. Therefore, when additional comments are approved, ones that were written later are pushed down and get higher numbers.

    If you want to respond to somebody, please start with their name, then a colon, then their text in bold. To make text bold, write it like this: <B> text you’re quoting </B>.

    Rancor might be a necessary ingredient in this discussion. Confusion is not.

  18. dovid says:

    To Ahron (#63)

    You didn’t convince me. I believe along with most of the readers that the initiative of and the purpose for separate seating are praiseworthy and should be pursued. Granted, the execution was poor. The reasons for it are many. One of them is that people lose sight of the fact that it’s a chumrah. If a woman sits down in the front and after being asked pleasantly (it didn’t happen in the maaseh in question), and she still doesn’t budge, so be it. We lived with it until now. We should continue to sit in the area designated for men and continue to suggest ladies in a respectful way to move to their area. Our protest against perpetrators of such incidents should take the form of standing up firmly, at the time and place of the maaseh, and not allowing them to force their agenda down our throats.

    It appears from some of the comments posted that we are mad at this lady for reporting the story to Ha’aretz and are eager to point out her unladylike reaction in the bus. How about us? Men touched and disgraced her in public and we remained mum. Let’s be concerned about our aveiros not hers.

  19. Bob Miller says:

    As we rightly criticize “misbehavior in the name of good behavior”, let’s also consider how low public morals have fallen in Israel. The immorality from which some take now such pains to isolate themselves is real and dangerous to the Jewish neshamah. If we don’t want them doing the wrong things to protect the principle of tzniut, the least we can do is to develop and apply a better solution. Since when is the goal of the Jewish people to establish a Western-sponsored Club Med nation? It’s Hanukkah–think about it!

  20. Joel Rich says:

    Interesting is the number of comments that focus on the result as the reason for suggesting a different course of action rather than whether the action in and of itself is appropriate. While certainly the result is worth considering, might I point out that the reason given by chazal for the torah both warning us not to do something and then stating a punishment (rather than just a punishment alone) is so that we know that we are not to do that action because it is wrong in HKBH’s eyes, the punishment is secondary.
    KT

  21. Ahron says:

    Dovid– thanks for your reply (for the record I am not yet worthy of having talmidim).

    I believe I am protesting with the tools that Hashem and the Torah give us. You assert that a decision by a male to sit in the back of the bus “will only add fuel to the fire.” I disagree: I believe the fire has already been ignited, and it now our job to fight it lest it spread even further.

    Let us ask: What would our great rabbonim and rebbeim of Europe, and our noble rishonim and Chachamim have said about this situation? About the imposition of a private chumro on a public utility–an imposition that has now led to violence as we know, but even more has led to animosity, anger and alienation between yidden ? Would they be proud of the results? Would they insist like an unmovable mountain that this innovative private chumro must continue to be extended by strength into the public sphere? Or would they declare that the attempt to machmirize the public kotel bus was an experiment gone terribly wrong, and in light of the results the experiment is immediately terminated. You know what I think — what about the rest of us?

    Dovid, you write that sitting in the back of the bus would “not amplify kvod shomaim… [or] kvod ha’briyos.” Again I disagree: Nothing could degrade or disparage kvod shomayim and kvod ha’briyos more than the types of actions that apparently took place on that bus. And it gets even worse. Because few things could further disparage kvod shomayim more than a spreading belief that the kotel, our only link back to the Beis Hamikdash, the Home and sanctuary at which every segment and tribe of Am Yisroel gathered together, is devolving into the colonized protectorate of a narrow, antagonistic, disdainful, and even fanatical sect and ideology that has established its power by dint of intimidation and communal disinterest. It is hard to think of a phenomenon that could be more damaging to the Jewish people than that.

    This situation would be burdensome enough if it solely involved one fanatical assailant (b/c as we all know, every population has its fanatics). Unfortunately this issue is far broader. It involved the bus passengers as well and it now involves the broader shomer Torah community. The responses to this event, in multiple forums from persons speaking as defenders of chareidi communities and ideologies, only confirms and amplifies the danger I sense from this phenomenon and my assessment of it as a threat–yes, a threat–to Am Yisroel. What these people are representing and demanding is simply not our Torah.

    And those responses are evidence enough that the machmir bus movement is not, at root, about kvod shomayim and kvod ha’briyos. Rather it’s about power, control and sadly anger. Those who feel compelled to only utilize machmirzed forms of transportation (at this point I can’t even tell what specific chumros are involved–can you?) should simply purchase or lease vehicles that will allow such services to be provided to them on a private, voluntary, opt-in basis without imposing their de novo standards on the public. Whether such further retreat into ghettoized locomotion would be positive or negative is a deeper question–one that I imagine most advocates of machmirzed buses are not troubled by. But the rest of the Jewish people should not be forcibly dragged into retreat with them.

    For all those reasons, I intend to combat this fanaticism the best way I know how: by challenging the threat directly via my choice of seat on the #2 bus. Those who can’t stand it….can get their own bus.

  22. HILLEL says:

    Guest comment from an Haaretz reader:

    By Daphna Berman : Woman beaten on Jerusalem bus for refusing to move to rear seat

    Talkback
    Title: Weird that this womed describes herself as religious
    Name: D Hirod
    City: State: UK

    Maybe she has her own special brand of religion – but it`s not judaism. Moreover, is it reasonable to assume that a bus-driver would place his job on the line (particularly in such difficult economic times) and not do something? These guys carry weapons with them, remember, and certainly telephone or radio contact to base and police. And only one witness? Something smells decidedly fishy here.

  23. dovid says:

    To Zimmerman (#59)

    You are right. We must think things through. Let’s imagine witnessing this avlah just about to take place. Several men are about to spit on the face of a woman who refuses to go to the back of the bus, ready to kick and punch her, and pull off her head cover. She is ready to fight back which may bring the worst out of her. She may contact Ha’aretz, BBC, N.Y. Times, after the maaseh is over. We know this could happen because it happened and it may happen again. If I position myself in time between the woman and these fellows, I will make a fool of myself for my not being able to argue with them in rapid-fire Hebrew and I may possibly absorb some of the blows. But they won’t touch the woman and won’t disgrace her with uncovering her hair which the Gemarah calls it ervah. It is conceivable that someone may side with me which would make my task easier. After all is over, I will tell the woman that she has the right to sit anywhere she pleases, but I will plead with her to move to the back. Now, let’s examine the score. On the negative side, some will definitely regard me a fool. My ego will be bruised for several days. After all, they “won” both the verbal and physical confrontation. Some of the passengers may disapprove of my getting involved, mistakenly thinking I defend women’s right to sit in the front. On the positive side, my disgrace is considerably smaller than what the woman would suffer. I upheld gadlus haAdam. If I find the right tone and words, I may even convince this lady to sit in her designated area from now on. I stopped an avlah taking place. Also, the likelihood of the story hitting the headlines is considerably smaller. In summary, I upheld k’vod shomayim. Rabosai, wasn’t it worth it?

  24. HILLEL says:

    To # 57 Charles:
    Abraham’s nephew, Lot, was punished for choosing to live in Sodom, instead of staying in the sheltered Ghetto around Abraham’s tent.

    We choose to mingle with the incresingly-decadent society around us at our peril and at the peril of our children, who are “dropping out” at alarming rates.

    To #53 Seeking Emes:
    That’s my goal in this discussion, too.

    Thanks for linking the Haaretz article on this incident. My conclusion, after reading it is that this lady has a credibility problem.

    The organizations who are working with her read like a who’s-Who of those who seek to undermine the Jewish religion in the Holy Land: The New Israel Fund (left-wing, funded by Ford Foundation), IRAC (Reform Movement legal advocacy), JOFA (feminist association).

    She is cooperating with them in bringing a case before the anti-religious Israeli Supreme Court that will outlaw all “Mehadrin” buses that provide separate setaing for men and women. This will eliminate what little Tzenius there is on the buses in Israel.

    The Egged bus driver completely contradicts her version of the events and says there was no violence.

    I find it very hard to believe that a truly-religious 50-year-old “grandmother,” would willingly work together with the Hellenist enemies of Yiddishkeit as provide them with ammunition for a broad attack on the Hareidi community’s attempts to protect itself from the blatant immorality that is so prevalent on the Israeli street.

    To #55 L. Oberstein:
    So you are ashamed to be on the same blog with me. I thought you didn’t believe in “insularity.”

    I guess you are looking for a “mehadrin” blog, where only people who think exactly like you will be allowed “on the bus.!”

  25. Jon says:

    It is indeed frightening if a woman, Charedi or otherwise, is advised to keep her mouth shut (as suggested by Aviva, #50) when she is physically assaulted. That this assault occurred in a public bus is perhaps the only reason why there is any ‘news’ about it. All too many women (and some men) are victims of physical abuse and never speak up about it, especially in our Jewish communities. Sadly, in many Jewish communities abused women cannot seek recourse against or protection from abusers because men dominate decision-making apparatuses in these communities and, as illustrated by many comments to this case, some men are often all too willing to excuse or explain away much of the violence women suffer. Moreover, reverting to ‘secular’ media and social services are strategies shunned by many men (and some women) in these communities – perhaps because the menfolk do not want their dirty laundry aired to a larger public. But in many situations, it is only to these external sources of support and publicity that women can turn because only these can possibly bring about justice for some women in these insular communities.
    Claims that this case is an issue of tzniut, or mossur or zealousness aside, this is an issue of not just “a woman’s right” but EVERY woman’s right to live without fearing physical assault in every and any place on earth, be it a private house or a moving bus. No place, as far as I know, is outside the moral universe; exceptions are not possible. To advise a woman to be quiet about her assault is to encourage men to fantasize that they have the right and the capacity to create spaces outside the moral universe in which they can assault – and be justified in so doing! – someone else because s/he is not comporting to their desires and/or religious strictures. And, of course, to advise a woman to be quiet about her abuse only worsens her feelings of isolation and often exposes her to further assaults; one need only peruse relevant literature on abused women to see the veracity of this point.

  26. Ori Pomerantz says:

    L. Oberstein: I am ashamed to be included in the same blog as Hillel and his ilk.

    Ori: I am non observant and intermarried, probably one of the least Hillel-like people here. As such, I take exception to your statement. Like it or not, you’re in the same nation as Hillel, as well as Tomi Lapid, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss (Netur Karta who recently visited Iran), and a lot of other people you find more or less disagreeable. G-d decided to place us together, and I suspect He knows what’s best for us better than you or me.

    About two thousand years ago, our ancestors divided themselves into different sects: Prushim, Tzadokim, Isi’im, Kana’im, etc. As far as I can tell, members of each group had little respects to members of the other. Their mutual hatred lost us the second temple.

    Being in the same blog with people doesn’t mean you agree with them. It just means you believe they are not beyond hope.

  27. Zimmerman says:

    To slightly defend the other passengers on the bus, including the bus driver himself, who everyone seems to be labeling as “cowards” or worse for not getting involved, have any of you ever been in this type of a situation before, witnessing such a huge chillul Hashem? You might think you would be able to stop it, you might think you could fix the whole problem, but you would be too shocked to think straight, and possibly cause an even bigger chillul Hashem when you get involved. Take it from personal first hand experience (and I hope it never happens again), a response to an act like this must be thought through. Just imagine you were there, what would you do to help? Think deeply about this now, what’s going to be the response to your actions? Did everyone else know who started, what happened, etc.? Did you really solve everything, or are you just part of the problem for acting irrationally because of your own biases?

  28. Charles B. Hall says:

    To #45 Hillel:

    My own rabbis and teachers, while not defending the decadence of much (not all) of secular society, disagree with your “most Torah authorities”. We exist as Jews to have an impact on the morality of the rest of the world, not to run away from it. A chasidic rebbe specifically told me to take the subway, rather than drive, from the Bronx to Brooklyn to meet with him so that I may spend the extra time learning Torah. (There are no “mehadrin” subway lines in NYC yet I see a lot of frum people taking the subway.) A rabbi from the Lithuanian yeshiva tradition has told me for those who can handle it (not everyone) it is better to be out in the world making a difference than retreating to a completely isolated life. And a modern orthodox rabbi has told me that under no circumstances should I leave my secular job to learn full time — that secular professions need frum people who are committed to full Torah observance (and Torah learning when not at work), and that full time learning is appropriate for very few (if any) people who come to observance late in life.

    The people who assaulted this woman have made all of us look bad. The fact that the victim is herself observant does not help — but the assaults would have been just as uncalled for had the woman been a secular Arab. There is no defense for the behavior and there is no justification for blaming the victim. Every incident like this sets back outreach by years.

  29. farrockgrandma says:

    Bear in mind, these same passengers were returning on an ordinary no.2 bus where they could not dictate the seating. They were throwing their weight around on this bus because they thought they could get away with it.

  30. L.Oberstein says:

    I am ashamed to be included in the same blog as Hillel and his ilk. His form of religion is not the Judaism I believe in and if he represents G-d, then woe to us.

  31. farrockgrandma says:

    Okay, this lady was a bit “unladylike” in her response – but I’m not sure that I could have done any better.
    Getting on an empty bus, in the dark, around 5am, I would also choose set in the front of the bus near the driver. And a mob of strange men asking me to move the back would not make me feel any safer changing my seat.
    Many chareidi men living in other countries are able to use public transportation and survive the experience just fine.
    Here in America we also struggle with being sensitive to religious minorities without offending everyone else. It doesn’t always work.
    But the comments that this woman should move, because “we’re the majority her” are frightening. They remind me of the classic definition of Democracy, “the bludgeoning of the people, by the people.”

  32. Seeking Emes says:

    This case is not so simple, unfortunately.

    According to the Haaretz paper, there was one eyewitness (perhaps the amazing cameraman who came out of nowhere?) who said she was beaten. The bus driver on the other hand says no such thing took place.

    While I have no problem with self-examination and criticism, I would expect a little more in terms of research. It’s a Chillul Hashem if it happened, but it’s also a Chillul Hashem if it didn’t and people think it did.

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArtVty.jhtml?sw=%22Miriam+Shear%22&itemNo=801449

  33. dovid says:

    To ASB (#49)

    Men sitting in the back of the bus would solve only the problem of their not mixing with ladies. But they will face the ladies for the entire ride which is also a problem. The Chareidi, Monroe-New York bus has a mechitza in the middle of the aisle running through the length of the bus which allow both men and ladies to sit anywhere from the front till the back of the bus, in their designated area to the right or left of the mechitza. The Monsey-New York bus also had the same type of mechitza. I wonder whether such a mechitza might be a security hazard in EY.

  34. ASB says:

    Why don’t the men sit in the back of the bus? I don’t understand.

  35. aviva says:

    The woman on the bus DID NOT CAUSE the chillul Hashem, the people on the bus who decided to punish her with street justice caused the chilul Hashem. She is only “guilty” of not keeping it a secret. Yes, to keep “shalom babus” maybe she could have moved to the back of the bus, but she didnt. Complaining and badmouthing her shouldve been the worst of it, but for some sick reason, it was not.