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Beit Shemesh

  • Between a rock and a Haredi place: profile of a liberal rabbi

    Rabbi Dov Lipman is soft-spoken and not even 41 years old, but has seen his share of action on the battleground of Israeli society. He's taken verbal beatings and sustained physical injury. He's won praise and publicity, and drawn fire too, for his tireless struggle against religious extremists literally next door. Lipman is a Haredi-ordained educator (Haredi = ultra-Orthodox), and a religious Zionist with a liberal bent – a rare bird in these parts. His main political arena is his home, the city of Beit Shemesh not far from Jerusalem, with its growing Haredi population. This year, Beit Shemesh became…

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  • The Round Trip part 14: Planet hopping

    From Jerusalem to the Lachish hills via a silent house of white robes, a Jewish Afghanistan and a Argentinian dance class. As the sun sets over Jerusalem, Holocaust Remembrance Day officially begins. It begins with a disaster: The wild wind of that sand storm toppled a stainless steel tower that held a light fixture above Mount Herzl. There, by the tomb of national Zionism's founder, a televised commemorative ceremony was to be held, but the collapse killed one 20-year-old female officer and left five others wounded, and it is now unclear what will be of the event. Having touched down…

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  • Women won't solve Israel-Palestine conflict, but feminists might

    In a study published by The Palestine-Israel Journal, my review of public opinion data showed only minimal differences between women and men in supporting peace. A strong and thriving feminist movement may be the key to advancing peace, and addressing deep, underlying chauvinism in general. Sometimes I worry that if I start writing about the state of feminism in Israel, a storm will gather inside me, and a tirade will come pouring out. The post will explode into an uncontrollable, possibly incoherent, manifesto of frustrations. So I’ll start with two specific issues: passing the buck, and the internalization of male-driven…

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  • Beit Shemesh "flash mob" antagonistic and irrelevant

    +972's Ami Kaufman writes that he found "particularly heart-warming" the flashmob in Beit Shemesh, noting that it shows the ultra-Orthodox "who wears the pants in this town."  I'm guessing it's obvious who wears the pants: the woman in the middle front row.   I cannot identify her, but I think it is safe to guess that is the choreographer herself, since everyone is looking at her.  And somewhere in there is Miri Shalem, the organizer.  It is also worth noting that she has organized women-only "disco nights" (as reported in Hebrew by Ma'ariv/NRG in 2004) in neighboring Ramat Beit Shemesh…

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  • WATCH: Beit Shemesh women in flash mob against segregation

    Ever since an ultra-Orthodox Jew spat on 8-year-old Naama Margolese for dressing “immodestly”, Beit Shemesh can’t seem to get out of the news.Yet some women of Beit Shemesh, as the JPost reported two days ago, decided to dance the bad vibes away with a flash mob: Dance organizer Miri Shalem said that the event was organized in protest of the violent extremist actions of "the group of crazies," and to show that there is another side to Beit Shemesh. "Today the women and girls demonstrated our unity in public and I hope we will continue to do this in the future…

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  • Religious harassment and police complicity in Beit Shemesh

    Before the intimidation of school girls by ultra-Orthodox enforcers became a national and international story, the local police were determined to remain neutral. If you meet the police in Beit Shemesh, you can understand why the town's mainstream Jewish majority is afraid of the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) extremists, and why the Haredi extremists are afraid of no one. At the start of October, over the High Holidays, the stories of these Haredim harassing the not-sufficiently-Orthodox girls from Orot elementary school  were spreading through the country's English-speaking religious community. (Many of the girls at Orot are children of American immigrants, such as Na'ama Margolese, the tearful, frightened "star" of last weekend's TV news segment that set off nationwide outrage this past week.) But the story…

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  • Israelis should self-reflect before criticizing Haredi segregation

    Preface Before I begin, I would like to preface with a few points. First, I do not support the extremist religious elements in Beit Shemesh, as they have been recently discussed in the Israeli and international media.  And yes, I would call those engaging in the behavior as covered by Israeli Channel 2 (and translated by +972's Ami Kaufman) as "extremist.”  They do not represent all of Beit Shemesh's inhabitants, nor of course all who follow Orthodox Judaism, ultra or non-ultra. Second, I wholeheartedly object to the treatment of women in a manner that is any less than equal to that…

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  • 4,000 protest Haredi gender-segregation in Beit Shemesh

    This post was written by Dahlia Scheindlin, Ami Kaufman, and Yossi Gurvitz About 4,000 people demonstrated in Beit Shemesh on Tuesday evening, including a parade of politicians from a spectrum of left and right parties, both secular and religious, to protest what is perceived as the “Haredization,” of the city, a takeover by the ultra-orthodox. The immediate events sparking the protests were a series of incidents highlighting gender discrimination – a group of Haredim spitting on an eight-year old religious girl, and the struggle over gender-segregated (women in the back) buses in Jerusalem; and more broadly, the exclusion of women…

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  • No, a woman's voice is not "pubic" - the song must go on

    A recent protest from within the IDF against the sound of women singing made it all the way to the High Court. But the event is only one in a string of state-sanctioned assaults against women's rights, led by Israel's religious establishment, which likens women to their genitalia By Hila Benyovits-Hoffman | Translation: Dena Shunra Some six weeks ago, during a formal IDF officers’ training course event celebrating military heritage, nine cadets stood up and left the performance hall. The reason for their pointed exit was the participation of women among the military singers. The cadets felt they were prohibited from listening to them…

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