Charedi hooligans

letter-447577_1280

R’ Rosenblum made a passing reference in his post, “The Choice is Ours,” to the juvenile delinquents who plague some of our beautiful charedi communities. Although I admire his soul-searching candor, I take issue with one sentence of his:”But one thing is not emphasized: the interrelationship of all Jews, and the responsibility of Jews for one another”

Even in the most insular chassidishe communities, little boys didn’t used to throw stones at cars for entertainment. I don’t know when we started having this plague of young hooligans somehow sprouting up from our most charedi communities.

The division between those who emphasize the “hen am levadad yishkon” aspect and those who emphasize the “ohr lagoyim” aspect of Yiddishkeit is a division of long-standing. But the production of young hooligans has never been a goal or byproduct of EITHER emphasis.

I don’t know where we’ve gone wrong, but could it be that maybe something of the Modern Spirit has somehow crept into even the most insular of our charedi ghettoes? I refer to the Modern Spirit of totally spoiling and indulging young children, so that they become uncontrollable brats.

[For those who need translation: Hen am levadad yishkon = “It is a nation that dwells alone.” Ohr lagoyim = “a light unto the nations.”]

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50 Responses

  1. HILLEL says:

    ORI:

    Many of the great Torah leaders have been saying, for some time now, that Moshiach is very immanent.

    In fact, the BABA SALI gave Rav Mordechai Eliyohu a gift–a new frock coat–to wear when Moshiach arrives (Rav Eliyohu is not a young man). The BABA SALI told him that he would still be alive when Moshiach comes.

  2. Bob Miller says:

    “No kovod for crooks might be a place to start.
    Comment by YoelB — July 16, 2007 @ 4:15 pm”

    This principle applies in general, not to one group only. Singling out one group in this connection creates the false impression that crooks are not found elsewhere or maybe are given no kovod elsewhere.

    That said, it is clear that, as a people called to a higher standard, we need to be less tolerant of low behavior.

  3. Ori Pomerantz says:

    HILLEL,

    You said that same chilonim consider themselves under attack if they can’t behave like Sodomites. Since my point was that most chilonim have a reason to consider themselves threatened, I assumed you meant to equate chiloni behavior with Sodomite behavior. I’m happy to see that is not the case (had it been my allusion would have been clear), and I apologize for misunderstanding you.

    HILLEL: Moshiach will come, before such a civil war comes to pass.

    Ori: Ashrey haMa’amin, happy is the believer. Didn’t the zealots have a civil war during the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans? If G-d did not send Mashiach then, how can you be sure He will send Mashiahc now?

  4. YoelB says:

    Jonathan Rosenblum has articulated the problem well: ” I feel almost no sense of identification, for instance, with those who have turned Ramat Beit Shemesh into a battle zone, over the placement of a sign warning women to dress properly (just like the signs in Meah Shearim).”

    He feels no sense of identification with Jews who wear the same “uniform” (yes, I know, there are distinctions that those in the know can see but to the rest of the world, it’s the same army.) And he says that he was even angrier at the charedi rioters than he was at the “gay pride” demonstrators.

    That’s interesting, because for many of us here in galut, we read reports in the newspaper of some criminal or other and we are relieved if he’s not Jewish. We feel shame for them because we identify with them. But the most prominent charedi spokesman doesn’t identify with his community’s criminals.

    If these thugs are really as much of a detriment to your community as you say, call for their arrest and prosecution. Shun them. Help the authorities. Use your connections with the rabbonim to clean this evildoing from the community.

    Does the charedi community wants respect from chilonim? How about getting as upset about corruption inside and outside of the charedi community as about Shabbat and modesty? The corrupt mosdos are a black eye for the many honest people with whom you rightly do identify.

    No kovod for crooks might be a place to start.

  5. HILLEL says:

    ORI:
    I didn’t understand your last allusion to Sodom and electricity.

    Moshiach will come, before such a civil war comes to pass.

  6. Ori Pomerantz says:

    HILLEL: SOME chilonim consider themselves under attack, if they can’t behave like Sodomites in G-D’s Holy Land.

    Ori: My point is that chilonim who want to stay chilonim and to stay in Israel have a reason to consider themselves threatened (if they are young enough, at least). That does not justify police violence against law abiding citizens, of course. It does explain the general antipathy against charedim, though.

    If current demographics hold, eventually Israel will have a religious majority (religious zionists and charedim), which will be able to legislate Halacha. Hillel, if your view is the Torah perspective, then when such an opportunity presents itself Halacha will be legislated.

    It is distasteful for me to even think it, but at some point during that process I’d expect a civil war. The differences are simply impossible to reconcile.

    BTW, Hillel, do you see no difference between people who chop this guests’ legs when they don’t fit the bed (the Midrash on Sodom) and Jews who use electricity on Shabbat?

  7. Menachem Lipkin says:

    From Jonathan Rosenblums:

    “Those who have incited Menachem Lipkin’s wrath are a real phenomenon within what is generally thought of as chareidi society—not just a fringe element. But there are many who feel completely unconnected to them, and do not feel that the term chareidi can even serve as an umbrella term for the variety of communities.”

    I guess then the onus falls upon those with the community to differentiate themselves. At the same time, as I believe Jonathan does on a regular basis, the overall Chareidi society needs to introspect and make sure that nothing in their ideology is causing these phenomenon.

    From Hillel:

    “Are you saying that the MO reporter from World Net Daily is paranoid, that he has misreported the anti-Semitism that is rampant in Israel?”

    Yes. I love WND and I’ve been reading it for years, but they are certainly given to histrionics of the first degree.

  8. Bob Miller says:

    I found this in the Aishdas.org archives of their Avodah discussion list:

    Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2000 15:46:21 EST
    From: [email protected]
    Subject: Re: Gedolim and ball playing

    A friend of mine who was a counselor in Camp Aguda told me that the Bluzhever Rebbe (who used to visit camp Aguda), used to sit at the sports fields and just watch the kids play ball. When asked about this unusual behavior he told them that the most difficult thing for him during the War and in the camps was seeing the horrible conditions the poor “tyere yidishe kinderlach” had to grow up in (if they had a chance to grow up) and it pained him to see that they did not have a chance to run, laugh and play like normal children. He therefore just sat and “shepped nachas” from seeing Jewish kids being normal and playing in a beautiful outdoor setting and enjoying themselves. (The
    Bluzhever was really an unusual human being).

    Also, it is well known that R. Yakov Kaminetsky used to walk and go swimming even in his older years and recommended others to do so.

    And finally, the Artscroll R. Moshe book has a story where R. Moshe told a class in MTJ that children should play ball but they must make sure to play like yidden — no cursing or fighting.

    So if anyone needs reassurance as to the value of ball playing and exercise the actions and words of these 3 giants should reassure anyone who perhaps feels that such activity is a waste of time.

  9. HILLEL says:

    MENACHEM:

    Are you saying that the MO reporter from World Net Daily is paranoid, that he has misreported the anti-Semitism that is rampant in Israel?

    Perhaps, you are overlooking something.

  10. Steve Brizel says:

    Noam-Many of us confuse disagreeing strongly and even vehemently with a person’s POV as somehow indicating a dislike of the person. IMO, that is conflating Sinas Chinam beyond its traditional and well known definitions.

  11. HILLEL says:

    ORI:

    You make a good point. SOME chilonim consider themselves under attack, if they can’t behave like Sodomites in G-D’s Holy Land.

    However, you can’t compare the levels of violence. Rock throwing by Hareidi children is child’s play–literally–when compared to Government sponsored Police violence against Hareidim and the violence of roaming Chiloni gangs, who invade Hareidi neighborhoods.

    As for the demographic threat, It was the Chazon Ish who told MK Lawrence that Torah Jews, who have many children, will eventually outlast and overwhelm Chiloni Jews, who have little or none.

    There won’t be any Chilonim left to complain about Torah Judaism in Israel.

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    Chillul HaShem by individuals, regardless of their age or haskafah, should be condemned and not condoned. OTOH, acts of Chillul HaShem by individuals should not be used as pretenses to engage in condemnation of a hashkafa that the individual purports to represents. Once again, we all need to remember that Torah,Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim are the key elements to a proper Jewish life and that hashkafa can only supplement, but NEVER supplant and replace the key elements.

  13. Most of the writers on this thread use the term “chareidim” as if it were one thing. It is not. I feel almost no sense of identification, for instance, with those who have turned Ramat Beit Shemesh into a battle zone, over the placement of a sign warning women to dress properly (just like the signs in Meah Shearim). The idea that one can leave Meah Shearim and turn one’s new surroundings into a mini-Meah Shearim is dangerous to all, including those who hold such ideas. (I’m told that they have been cut off from most communal tzedakah funds, despite being very needy, in many cases.)I would only note that they pledge fealty to no gadol b’Yisrael, and I doubt you would find one who would claim credit for them.

    Those who have incited Menachem Lipkin’s wrath are a real phenomenon within what is generally thought of as chareidi society — not just a fringe element. But there are many who feel completely unconnected to them, and do not feel that the term chareidi can even serve as an umbrella term for the variety of communities.

  14. Noam says:

    Mr. Kobre- While I stand by what I wrote, I think it would be better not to get into a profitless public discussion of specific examples and people. I would be happy to discuss the topic with you further if you would like to email me. Incidentally, or perhaps more to the point, I would not include your writing in that category.

  15. Garnel Ironheart says:

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned so far:
    In ANY community, there are good people and bad people. No one notices the good people because, in general, they go about their business quietly and civilly. You notice the bad people because they stand out through their actions.
    If you are outside the community, you therefore only notice those people who are calling attention to themselves, ie. the bad people.
    I have no doubt the majority of Chareidim are good hearted decent folk. A minority of them aren’t. A Torah lifestyle, after all, does not make you a good person (as much as the Artscroll line of books would like you to believe). Living decently does. So who do we all notice? Not the kids kicking a ball back and forth in the back alley, but the kids throwing rocks at cars and we conclude: Aha! That’s the way Chareidi kids are! Some are, sure. But just as not all blonde Chiloni women on the Tel Aviv beach are prostitutes, neither are all the Chareidi kids terrorists-in-training.
    It’s the same for the adults. No Israeli newspaper will ever report a story on the many hard working, honest Chareidim in the state. Who’d want to read about that? So we heaer about the bad Chareidim who, unfortunately, give the newspapers plenty to write about and we conclude that they must be representative of the community.
    The only difference is this:
    No other community in Israel so identifies itself as “the official community of the Jewish people”. No other is so insistent that it is their existence that allows the State to endure. No other demands all the accomondations (eg. army service, funding for schools without standard curricula, etc). With those great claims comes great responsibility to ensure the community presents itself in a certain way to Israeli society and the outside world. It would be nice for the Chareidi community to stop saying “It’s just a bunch of hooligans who aren’t really good Chareidim anyway” and register its absolute disapproval of these actions. Throwing stones on Shabbos, whether or not they were designated on Friday, attacking people on the street, etc. must become as forbidden as pork and shellfish to the community. Otherwise, this trend will continue to worsen.

  16. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “It’s odd that the more modern world, which cannot lay claim to such a yerusha for so large a number of their brethren, should be so eager to criticize the Charedi world for the wrongdoings of a few.”

    I think that the criticism is aimed at charedi philosophy, rather than against individuals. While it is true, as in the analogy, that a soap manufacturer(i.e., Hashem and the Torah) is not at fault if the child doesn’t use it, the charedi “system”(i.e., social policies and organizations) is not the Torah itself, and has fallible, human, elements that may be the subject of a critical evaluation of strengths and weaknesses(see “These and Those” of R. Shimon Schwab for an airing of strengths and weaknesses, on both sides, of even more fundamental aspects of communal life).

    An ideal system should not allow unseemingly actions by a vocal minority, and if it allows such individuals to be part of society and hold them hostage, people will question whether changes need to be made to the system, by the top– even gradual changes in the more practical realm that are not a complete overhaul of the system’s fundamentals(if charedi society was cut in stone, and never adopted at all to changing situations, there wouldn’t be a number of positive phenomena which exist currently).

    That having been said, critics should not ignore the good of the non-extremist majority who are products of the charedi system, as Rabbi Adlerstein wrote in “Wiki-Orthodoxy and the Undervaluing of Torah”(February 07).

  17. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Hillel, what you’re saying is right, but it’s only half the picture. Chilonim (= secular Jews in Israel) also consider themselves under attack by religious Jews. This is based on three factors:

    1. Halachic requirements by government law. Chilonim who want to get married in Israel, or get a divorced recognized by Israeli law, have to go through the Rabbanut. Chiloni teenagers who want to go places on Shabbat can’t take a bus unless they live north of Haifa.

    2. Money. A lot of things that are privately financed in the US are government financed in Israel. This means that instead of saying: “OK, they do that – but it’s not my business since I’m not paying for it” Israelis (religious and secular) have a right to resent expenditures they consider unjustified.

    3. Future demography. It looks like eventually the religious Jews will be the majority. Chilonim are afraid that once that happens, Halacha will be legislated, and they’ll be forced to observe it. From what I understand of Halacha, that fear is not groundless.

    I don’t know if there’s any way for the situation in Israel to calm down.

  18. Miriam Shear says:

    I am truly shocked that anyone here is shocked or even mildly surprised that violence seems to be creeping into the sphere of a Chareidi child’s “play time” activities. Why wouldn’t it? Last November, many rebbes in the chareidi yeshivas ENCOURAGED and ALLOWED their talmidim to get up from their learning to go riot in the streets. I stood at the corner of Kikar Shabbat in Mea Shearim/Geula and watched kids as young as 9 wild-eyed and full of uncontrolled glee “burn off” their testosterone as they burnt anything and everything not nailed to the ground; threw stones and garbage at passing cars – with no idea if they were “for” or “against” the abomination parade. I momentarily got one boy – about 10 – aside and asked him, “Do you even know why you’re doing this?” And he answered me with total childhood honesty – “Because it’s fun!” One could not even make the argument that the violence that these children indulged in was “l’sheim shemayim”. Holding a rope across a street and damaging cars or injuring pedestrians is “fun” for a boy who is forbidden to play sports “like the goyim”; who isn’t allowed to read anything other than Torah based texts; who has no outlet to channel his normal childhood energies.

    And, BTW: The men who beat me up on the #2 bus were not children; the initial man who approached me and spat in my face was every bit of 35 years old. The other 4 men were well into their 20’s. And the women who yelled at ME for being the “stupid American” were women well within my middle age or older. The people who burnt down the clothing store in Geula were not children. The proprietor had been threatened by adults – not kids. The people in Ramat Beit Shemesh who refuse service at the post office to anyone without a kippa or leg coverings are adults – not kids. And we wonder if this is a “modern” intrusion of influence?? Let’s not misappropriate terms, please. “Modern” is the newest fad of dirty words used as the one-brush-does-all explanation for anything “bad” that happens in the Chareidi world. Not so. At some point, an honest evaluation will point the finger in the right direction: Themselves. One cannot spoon feed one’s children constant heaping spoonfuls of disdain (that’s the mild form – hatred is the worst but not uncommon form) and contempt for everybody and everyone who is not exactly like them and expect CHILDREN to possess the intellectual and emotional sophistication to differentiate between possessing emotions and ACTING on emotions. Combine that with the insular and narrow lifestyle as described above and we have a lethal combination that is going to manifest itself in a variety of violent creative “activities”.

    When parents AND rabbinic leaders have enough courage to act in their children’s best interests instead of worrying about what “everybody else thinks”; when all these learners learn that caring for one’s physical health – i.e, sports for children – is not bittul Torah; when learning general studies of interest is not bittul Torah; oh -here’s a chiddush! – making a PARNASSA is NOT bittul Torah – then perhaps we’ll see a reversal of the trend toward violence as the overdoses of testosterone will be channelled in a more healthy way.

    Mrs. Katz, there is one very good possibility as to why the whole “separate bus seating” thing has “settled down”: The publicity of this horrendous Chillul Hashem gave the chareidi community – and its silent leaders – a big black eye. It opened up much overdue discussion on not only the issue of Mehadrin buses but extremism – particularly violent extremism – in general and provoked some real soul searching. I heard from several quite reliable sources that it became a platform for Rosh Yeshivas and Rosh Kollels and other community leaders to encourage more tolerance but an intolerance for violence. That, I was told, was what led in part to the massive Tefillah this time against the abomination parade instead of the air polluting carcinogens that sent hundreds of people to the hospital last fall from the street rioting. Obviously, there is more work to do. Not too unlike the Arabs who have created a generation of Sesame street suicide bombers, we have created our own generation of “the violent means justifies the chumras in the end”. It will now take a reeducation of our communities to get back on track and learn basic things like not injuring your fellow Jews.

  19. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Toby Katz: I feel about kids throwing rocks on Shabbos the same way I feel about kids being mechallel Shabbos in other ways. I don’t like hearing that frum kids are doing anything wrong. I would like to hear that they are all sweet, good, admirable people. I wish that were the case.

    Ori: Are the consequences the same? If a teenager from a frum family was known to throw rocks on Shabbat, would that teenager suffer the same consequences as one who was known to eat Treifa or drive on Shabbat?

  20. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Hillel,

    The Jews in RBS B and Mea Shaarim have no idea who Burg is. It’s a red herring. Their insular day to day lives are unfettered by the “antisemitism” you are conjuring up. The Bet Shemesh police use kit gloves when dealing with the riotous behavior that goes on here. People from within there own neighborhood have asked the police to be more aggressive.

    Sure there are plenty of secular Jews here who are strongly anti-religous, but like everything else they are the minority extreme. Just as the terrorists within the Chareidi community are a minority extreme. Everyone else falls on a continuum of religious feeling and behavior. The raw numbers of Jews here who observe some basic Jewish rituals are way too high to support your “siege mentality” theory. Also, when Chareidim are given “autonomy”, e.g. their own isolated communities like Kiryat Sefar and Beter there is little or none of this behavior. Also, putting the lie to your siege mentality idea.

    If anything the siege goes the other way, as here in Bet Shemesh the violent minority, acting like LA street gangs, try establish their “turf” by terrorizing what is otherwise a diverse and tolerant city.

    Hillel, I interface with secular “Tel Aviv” Israelis often and have no issues with them. You seem to be able to find the ones that fit your pre-conceived notions of what they should be.

  21. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >Just try talking to a secular leftist Jew in Tel Aviv about religion and God and watch his or her face wither in anger…

    B”H, That is not the experience of those who actually do this:

    http://www.rosh-yehudi.co.il/english.asp?english=true

    Maybe if all segments of the frum world, from RZ to Chareidi were more concerned about the societal immage they project, the bridge from secular to religious would be easier for these people to cross (or at least communicate accross)

  22. TobyKatz says:

    Joe Fisher wrote:

    “A number of this site’s “thought provoking” articles are subliminally, or even explicitly, critical of Charedim as a group. For instance, I have lived in Jerusalem for almost twenty years and haven’t found any meaningful number of “uncontrollable brats” among the Charedi children.”

    =
    I was the one who mentioned “uncontrollable brats.” I also wrote (see comment #11) “The charedi system actually has worked pretty well in producing large numbers of very committed, very eidel, very knowledgeable Jews. I don’t know what percentage of all charedi kids throw rocks (or drop out altogether) but my impression is that it’s small.” I also wrote that “I have tremendous admiration and respect for the incredible accomplishments of the charedi community.” It was most certainly not my intention to throw in my lot with the charedi-bashers.

    ====

    Hillel wrote: “The hatred many secular, leftist Israelis feel for the religious is so deep I cannot do it justice with words. The secular leftist media routinely demonize the religious.”

    He is so very right. The great pity is that so many Orthodox Jews get their impression of charedi society from the distorted funhouse glass of the secular media.

  23. la costa says:

    the Chief Rabbi of the Empire has a lovely dvar torah on ‘vhiyitem nkiim beinei hashem vehaam’ http://www.chiefrabbi.org/tt-index.html . if we could all concentrate on what is good for the Other and let the Ribbono shel Olam worry about the score for their misbehaviour, we wont be fasting next month…..but i am sure someone will point out that the lack of vehemence to Hahsem’s enemies is too great a hillul hashem….

  24. sima ir kodesh says:

    #25 Living in Israel over a decade, with many family and friends in Raanana, Gush Etzion, Petah Tikvah, Yerushayalim we have not seen, felt or experienced the utter harsh discrimination that you are describing. There are intolerable government officals and laws to deal with, but the ongoing hatred and spewing of disgust has not been felt.(or maybe just ignored). The media and government policy is outright leftwing and anti-religious, life was more amicable under Menachem Begin and Y. Shamir z”l for sure.
    There are slight changes everywhere, the Shuvu school systems, kiruv and programming on TV of Rav Elon shlita”, frum American olim and more powerful business people of religious orientation taking the reins. The secular youths are packing bags and running for the bucks in other country, increasing the majority of torah observing people. Majority of people are traditional, but passive in political nature,(can you believe it?)
    Shall we be violent and throw rocks since we are victims of hatred (?), sounds like the Arabs complaints under occupation. I am told zoning for yeshiva and housing extensions are tough in the New York area, and bribes are necessary to overlook issues. There are quiet revolutions happening in the mosdos of chinuch to educate the youth, bshalom ve darchai noam, slowly and not agreed upon by all. Changes are necessary but it will proceed at snails pace, we need more olim of the Rav Nachum Bulman z”tl type. Support organizations and mosdos that speak the language of achdus, and maybe maybe.

  25. Joe Fisher says:

    A number of this site’s “thought provoking” articles are subliminally, or even explicitly, critical of Charedim as a group. For instance, I have lived in Jerusalem for almost twenty years and haven’t found any meaningful number of “uncontrollable brats” among the Charedi children. The few violent acts discussed in these pages are way out of the norm.

    But I have noticed that a huge percentage of Charedim sacrifice their entire lives to Torah. They ignore livelihood, Pesach vacations, cars, and all the so-called pleasures advertised by Mishpacha in order to do one thing alone: to sit and learn.

    It’s odd that the more modern world, which cannot lay claim to such a yerusha for so large a number of their brethren, should be so eager to criticize the Charedi world for the wrongdoings of a few.

  26. HILLEL says:

    TO PROPERLY UNDERSTAND THIS PHENOMENON, YOU NEED TO LOOK AT THE CONTEXT:

    There is a siege mentality among religious Jews in Israel–for good reason:

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=56608

    …Growing up in a Jewish community in the United States, I was fortunate enough not to have experienced the kind of anti-Semitism that permeates places like France and, increasingly, the UK. But European anti-Semitism pales in comparison to its venomous counterparts in Israel. That’s right, Israel.

    It wasn’t until I moved here to open WND’s Jerusalem bureau in February 2005 that I fully understood what anti-Semitism is. The hatred many secular, leftist Israelis feel for the religious is so deep I cannot do it justice with words. The secular leftist media routinely demonize the religious. I’ve seen the way secular Jewish security forces brutally squash legal religious Jewish protests at the direction of leftist politicians. I’ve borne witness the past few years to the enactment of institutional anti-Semitic laws, such as deeming religious Jewish construction in strategic territory illegal while ignoring rampant illegal Arab building; or denying Jews the right to pray at or even visit Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, during most hours of the day.

    This great divide extends itself to the streets. Religious and secular cities are mostly separated. Just try talking to a secular leftist Jew in Tel Aviv about religion and God and watch his or her face wither in anger…

  27. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Lack of sports, or any outlet, is a good theory as to why these kids are easily manipulated into this violent behavior. But it’s not the source of it. There are full grown adults participating, often seemingly orchestrating events and it’s not the youth paying for and putting up the posters calling for the riots.

    This is very reminiscent of the first intifada where the seemingly “spontaneous” rock-throwing of the youth was shown to be a well orchestrated show for the media.

  28. Eytan Kobre says:

    Noam writes “The problem is intolerence and a disrespect of others, and unfortunately it is seen here on this blog.” It’s not clear if your reference to this blog intends the writers, commenters or both. Since I’m among the former group, I’d appreciate your clarification and elaboration, hopefully with examples to cite. It’s an awfully strong accusation to make, without supporting evidence, about other, identifiable Jews.

  29. bb says:

    “The division between those who emphasize the “hen am levadad yishkon” aspect and those who emphasize the “ohr lagoyim” aspect of Yiddishkeit is a division of long-standing. But the production of young hooligans has never been a goal or byproduct of EITHER emphasis.”

    The Netziv, and I think it is obvious, states that the way to be “ohr lagoyim” is by being “hen am levadad yishkon” so I don’t understand Mrs. Katz’s statement at all; unless you define as levadad yishkon as sitting in the corner, which makes no sense.

    BTW, years ago I worked with someone who grew up in Meah Shearim. This man must be at least 60 by now, if not more. He told me that when he was a kid they would prepare the rocks before Shabbos so they wouldn’t be muktzah. Throwing rocks is nothing new.

  30. Toby Katz says:

    “The chareidi man who assaulted the woman on the bus who would not move her seat was not a child.”

    He was mentally ill and in no way representative of charedi men — who normally would NEVER touch a woman and at worst would be verbally abusive. The vast majority of charedi men would not say a word to a woman who was sitting in the “wrong” seat but would just quietly move on to the next row.

    I recently spent a week in Y-m and rode buses, and found that people were quite civil to each other, a few couples sat together in the middle of the bus, the passengers mostly sorted themselves by sex with the women in the back, but the few who didn’t sort themselves — no one said boo to them. I think that whole issue has settled down.

  31. Bob Miller says:

    “Comment by cvmay — July 11, 2007 @ 10:18 pm” really has the most plausible explanation. However, given that kids’ sports of the usual sort have un-Jewish associations in the eyes of many chareidim, what way out does cvmay propose?

  32. ao says:

    So myopic, if there is a problem it comes from outside the ghetto, not within. Not even America’s inner-city minorities think this way about themselves.

  33. mycroft says:

    This is not a new problem-I don’t know Mrs. Katz-but guessing from the generation of her late father ZT”L- it is likely she is from approximately my generation. This activity was well known when I was a child. Nothing new. Ignored too long. Sadly-talking in tfilah is considered more important than chilul hashem.

  34. Marty Bluke says:

    I believe one of the main reasons is that there are no permissible outlets for Chareidi male teenagers and young adults. They aren’t allowed to play ball, read books, etc. only Torah. They can never let loose at all. Teenagers have a lot of energy and need an outlet. Protests are something that is seen as fun, let’s them burn off energy and run wild with the participant feeling that he is doing a mitzva and being a kannoi (zealot) for Hashem.

  35. sima ir kodesh says:

    Living in the holy of holies, a person can be privy to many modes of behavior not noticeable to the masses. Many young boys and young adults in the Charedei camp grow up with anger and hostility. I am not sure why, the belief is that their options in life are limited and restricted. Therefore this anger swells and erupts in violence, during demonstrations, in speech and writings, and in so-called protection of purity and sanctity. The “live and let live” attitude and preveiling tolerance that the USA is known for, is only found sprinkled in neighborhoods with predominantly American olim.

  36. Noam says:

    The chareidi man who assaulted the woman on the bus who would not move her seat was not a child. The people who either joined in, approved, or did nothing to help were not all children. My guess is that many who wrote in their approval of what happened were neither children nor teens. The people throwing stones at buses in Beit Shemesh are not all children or teens. The judge who called Rabbi Druckman an apikoris is not a teen, nor a child.

    The problem is intolerence and a disrespect of others, and unfortunately it is seen here on this blog. The children are just acting out what they learn.

    By the way, lumping MO with secular communities with regard to drug use and unwanted pregnancy is not a very accurate grouping, and might lead one to think it was meant as an insult to the MO group.

  37. cvmay says:

    In all cases (so far), the stone throwers and fire lighters have been of the male gender, ages adolescence through adulthood. As a mother & grandmother of many males (boys), their favorite activity is SPORTS. It starts at toddler age with pillow fights & jumping on any jump able surface continues with all types of ball playing, jogging, wrestling, exercising, working out with weights, league games and even jump roping on a boring day. Males were created to enjoy and feel refreshed by using their physical ability, strength and stamina. NOW in Israel, in Charedei circles there is an infatical NO, NO for sports and physical recreation,, why then do you ask has rock throwing becoming the newest fad??

  38. Chaim G. says:

    Ask R’ Rosenblum. It may be work but it sure isn’t making MONEY or even money. :)

  39. Miriam says:

    “The exact form that acting-out will take varies by community. In some you find rock-throwing, in MO or secular communities you might find unwanted pregnancies, drug use or a host of other undesirable behaviors.”

    You can not seriously think that “acting out” in a charedi society means throwing rocks, but in MO it means drugs and unwanted pregnancies. You are not comparing apples to apples, and that’s even noting how serious I think rock throwing is (MY SIL had her first child in Israel on Shabbos, her OB’s car was “stoned” as he drove to the hospital). Charedi kids who “act out” at the levels you are describing, do drugs, drink, go to nightclubs are michalel shabbos, watch porn, and more.

    The problem with the rock throwing is that it is NOT seen as acting out, and is indulged or ignored. If children grow up seeing their parents flout every rule or law they don’t agree with, you end up with kids who feel the same way.

  40. Toby Katz says:

    1. Ahron: The charedi system actually has worked pretty well in producing large numbers of very committed, very eidel, very knowledgeable Jews. I don’t know what percentage of all charedi kids throw rocks (or drop out altogether) but my impression is that it’s small. In terms of producing criminals, we have some actual Israeli criminals here in Florida where I live, and they are all from chiloni backgrounds. The DL community had not produced many rock throwers but it definitely has a larger dropout rate than the charedi community — defining dropout as no longer shomer Shabbos.

    2. Rejewvenator: Lack of adequate parental supervision may indeed be a factor. The influence of our rock-throwing Ishmaelite cousins is also not to be discounted, as you say. [BTW I love your “name” — Rejewvenator!]

    3. Chaim G.: In every community, when kids act out, the exact form that acting-out will take is heavily influeced by that community’s norms as well as by the surrounding society. In America wild kids might get a tattoo or a belly button ring and it might not even occur to them to throw rocks for fun.

    4. Gershon Josephs: You may be right that teenagers and young adults are also involved in this behavior. The specific cases I’ve heard of involved kids in around 8th grade but I’m not in Israel (except for occasional visits) to see who’s doing the crime. I have never witnessed stone throwing. I did once see a group of secular Israeli toughs wade into a group of charedim as the latter were coming out of shul on Shabbos. I know that my own charedi nephews, the young marrieds, the teens, and the little boys, are all very very sweet and would never hurt anyone, not verbally and certainly not physically.

    5. Ori Pomerantz: I feel about kids throwing rocks on Shabbos the same way I feel about kids being mechallel Shabbos in other ways. I don’t like hearing that frum kids are doing anything wrong. I would like to hear that they are all sweet, good, admirable people. I wish that were the case.

    6. Moishe Potemkin: See my answer #3. The exact form that acting-out will take varies by community. In some you find rock-throwing, in MO or secular communities you might find unwanted pregnancies, drug use or a host of other undesirable behaviors. Of course, indulging children is not an entirely modern phenomenon, it is even mentioned in the Torah.

    7. Elliot Pasik: What a child says in the street is what he hears at home — most of the time. But I have also known kids to repeat things they heard in shul, in school, on TV, in books, …. you get the idea.

    8. Menachem Lipkin: Terrorism? Seems a bit strong, but you may be right.

    ====

    A nephew of mine from a very charedi home told me with disgust and disdain that he knew kids who thought it was great fun to throw rocks at buses (during the whole contretemps over mixed vs separate seating buses). I asked him in amazement, “Do those kids really want separate seating buses?!” His surprising answer: “Of course not! They hate the separate buses! They just think it’s fun to throw rocks, that’s all.”

    It was from him that I got the impression that the boys involved are young. Also that many if not most charedim view these wild boys with disdain, anger and maybe fear. Even if the kids hear at home, “It’s terrible how chilonim drive around on Shabbos, desecrating the kedusha of Yerushalayim” — few if any hear their parents say, “Why don’t you run outside and throw some rocks, sweetums?”

    The inference that deploring chillul Shabbos necessarily leads to violence just ain’t so.

    BTW although I have tremendous admiration and respect for the incredible accomplishments of the charedi community, I myself am not truly charedi but only charedi-lite. I believe in Torah im Derech Eretz, and I think that many charedim will eventually have to work for a living — actually, many already do, if teaching, writing and translating are “work.”

  41. HESHY BULMAN says:

    Over 30 years ago, there were already some incidents of stone throwing on Shabbos by Chareidi youths. I recall that I was visiting Rav Eliyahu Kitov, ZT”L, the author of “The Book Of Our Heritage” just a few days after one such incident, which had been widely reported, and he commented that those who take part in such acts are as “far from Yiddishkeit as the most left of Kibbutzniks” (direct quote). But that particular incident did not involve children, as the current one apparently did. In this instance, I am reminded of another comment made to me in recent years by another long time Yerushalmi resident to the effect that this is simply another form of recreation for these kids. This is along the lines of Mrs. Katz’s theory – a total breakdown of discipline in the home has led to this behavior. This ,in turn, gives credence to the thoughtful comments of rejewvenator. This lack of discipline is surely the result of over-burdened parents of large families in extremely strained financial circumstances. As well, there is probably more than a little truth to the idea that there is genuine anger fomented in the home towards those whose anti-Torah activities are seen to endanger the lives of all who live our Holy Land. Children, being literal-minded, are particularly inclined to take the most direct approach to attacking the problems of life. Their parents bear a heavy burden in suppressing their own natural instincts to strike back in reaction to the constant demonization they are subjected to by secular Israeli society. A complex issue,this, with no simple explanation, save for the “Knee-Jerkers” on all sides.

  42. la costa says:

    it may not be fashionable to say. but could one not posit that maybe the most RW israeli haredi elements have some envy of a Taliban lifestyle– ie not only strict Sharia law, but also the furious power to punish all those who violate Allah’s precepts?

    one can understand such a desire , to once again have a Sanhedrin that can execute the defiers of Gd’s law— or at least to be His Holy Kanai- a la Pinchas. we see it on the streets of beit shemesh.

    i believe that the kids learn from the examples of the Shebab and the Martyrs; and maybe a bit of what they hear at home [ maybe what tatty or fetter did when they were young?

  43. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Using the term “hooligans” minimizes the seriousness of what’s happening here. Call it what it truly is; terrorism. It’s the use of physical violence directed at innocent civilians for the purpose of furthering a political or religious agenda. This terrorism is mainly being perpetrated and instigated by adults. Just as Palestinian media is indoctrinating a new generation so to these Jewish terrorists are preparing the next generation of “warriors”. It has nothing to do with spoiled brats. The only “modern” ideology that’s being imported here is that of our fundamentalist cousins.

  44. Elliot B. Pasik, Esq. says:

    What a child speaks in the street is what he hears at home. Sukkah
    56b.

  45. Moishe Potemkin says:

    If this problem were truly a consequence of modernity, wouldn’t we see it at least as much in communities that espouse a greater open-ness to modernity?

    This is not to downplay the challenges and concerns in other communities, but it seems rather forced to suggest that when a community defined at least in part by its intolerance exhibits violently intolerant behaviour-Mrs. Katz noted that these children are throwing stones at cars, not at each other-the cause must be something other than intolerance.

  46. Ori Pomerantz says:

    How would you react if those little boys were to light fires on Shabbat or eat pork? Throwing stones can kill somebody – isn’t Pikuach Nefesh more serious than Shabbat or Kashrut?

  47. Gershon Josephs says:

    The emphasis on ‘young’ hooligans, ‘little’ boys etc seems a bit misleading to me. Many acts of ‘hooliganism’ have been perpetrated by teenagers and ’20 somethings’ too. Intolerance and disrespect for others is the cause here, not spoilt children. However it might also be that the general global tendency for more ‘radical’ religious behavior has affected these chareidi communities too.

  48. Chaim G. says:

    OTC. IMO what has crept into our community has nothing to do with modernism but everything to do with an intolerance, lack of diversity and smugness more readily associated with medieval Islamism than with Dr. Spock.

    The Hooligans are downsized versions of the adults, they merely have more of the recklessness and passion of youth. What the adults think about the juveniles act upon.

    If your theory were correct we’d see trick-or-treat style vandalism on Purim, not stones at Chiloni cars on Shabbos or burning dumpsters to protest Kedusha breaches.

  49. rejewvenator says:

    It’s certainly possible that modernity in the form of indulging children is spilling in, but I wanted to suggest some other possibilities. Large Chareidi families have a learning father and a working mother, and these parents may not have enough time to properly supervise their many children. Perhaps this lack of parental supervision is what leaves kids available to run free on motzei shabbat to throw stone or engage in other acts of vandalism. The regular violence in Israel must also have some effect – even Chareidim not regularly exposed to media know of and have experienced violence from Palestinians as well as Israelis. It would be no surprise if that has seeped into the culture to some extent. Surely, the attribution of various tragedies and setbacks to the immoral and ahalachic behavior of fellow Jews inspires a desire for zealotry in the minds and hearts of Chareidi youth as well. If you tell teens that Jews who violate Shabbat are destroying Klal Yisrael, is it a surprise that they would react violently against those who do?

  50. Ahron says:

    Uh huh… and considering that the chareidi ghetto system has worked so excellently in every other respect, what does Mrs. Katz propose we do now? “Redouble our efforts”? “Try harder”? “Rededicate ourselves to [insert frumspeak here]”? Pardon my bluntness but we’ve seen these types of responses before to all manner of problems from all manner of people. If “something” of the dreaded “Modern Spirit” has indeed crept into the chareidi ghettos, doesn’t that raise some questions about the success rate and viability of a system whose goal is isolation?

    Further, as the Tanach’s description of King David and his son Avshalom makes clear the indulgence of young children has been going on for some time before the arrival of our Modern era. And in any event I’m not sure that the commission of aggravated assault is a normal outcome of such indulgence, nor that most perpetrators of aggravated assaults were themselves indulged. In other words I think the suggested linkage of simple parental spoilage with hooliganism is a false positive, and probably tertiary to the core issues. (In any event, how many financial resources does the average Israeli chareidishe family have to “spoil” their child with? And if the indulgence is in the realm of behavior, as opposed to material, then how did that happen if behavior above all else is supposed to be ruled by Torah–doesn’t that again raise the question of systemic success and viability?)

    Let me suggest that doing more of exactly what’s already led us to this point–only this time we’ll do it twice as strong!–isn’t exactly a stirring prescription for reexamination and change.