Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblum Confirms: Woman On Bus Beaten By Haredim; Ha’aretz to have extensive coverage this weekend

Haredi spokesperson Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblum writes:

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.

Note that Rosenblum would have kept this stoy out of the media and off blogs. Of course, that’s his job, deplorable as it is.

Here’s a link to my story on DovBear’s post that started it all.

[Hat Tip: Tzemach Atlas.]

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8 Comments

Filed under Crime, Haredim, Israel

8 responses to “Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblum Confirms: Woman On Bus Beaten By Haredim; Ha’aretz to have extensive coverage this weekend

  1. Aharon Varady

    I don’t understand this statement from Rosenblum: “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.” How difficult is it to reach these people?

  2. David Bar-Magen

    What a terrible story. The degenerates who beat this woman will hopefully rot in hell for it someday, and they will not be missed.

    However, let us please not allow this comment section to deteriorate into a bashing session about Those Charedim. While our insular society certainly does produce lunatics like the ones who beat this woman, remember that the majority of us–nonviolent–would like the madness to end, but are constantly being threatened and cowed by these lunatics, most of whom occupy strategic communal positions.

    Rememeber as well that the woman in this story is not utterly blameless.

    Whether or not she had the democratic right to sit where she sat, she most certainly realized that she was trampling over the sensibilities of an entire community, misguided as they are.

    Change must come from within haredi culture, at the hands of respected rabbis. By all means, light a fire under these rabbis howsoever you please, but don’t expect that a dramatic act of democracy will suddenly bring every haredi to the light.

    Israel isn’t America.

  3. formally frum

    to David about you comment

    “Remember as well that the woman in this story is not utterly blameless.

    Whether or not she had the democratic right to sit where she sat, she most certainly realized that she was trampling over the sensibilities of an entire community, misguided as they are. ”

    Why the rabbi even says

    “(the bus in question was not officially Mehadrin).”

    So she was in her right and she is blameless.

    Why does haredim think they can impose there
    belives on other.

    I think people should teach the haredim a lesson and attack any haredi who wears a stramel (the fur hat). As an animal lover I feel it is a sin and against god will to kill animals for a hat. And it might be against Halacha since there is a prohibition of TZar Bal achaim (to hurt living things).

    PS I did ask that question to few a people how can you wear a stramel since the Torah prohibits Tzar Bal achaim. Never did get an answer.

  4. David Bar-Magen

    To be sure, the haredim in this incident had no right to impose their beliefs upon this woman, and certainly no right to physically assault her.

    My point was only that she should have known full well what sort of reaction to expect from the haredim, mehadrin bus or not.

    Any illusion that her act of democracy in any way affected the haredim is just that: an illusion. And, in this case, an illusion that she suffered for. So why even bother?

    Change in the haredi world can only come from within, and bullying them in any way, shape, or form will only make them fiercer and more certain, as persecution has done to all Jews throughout the centuries.

    As to your question about animals in Judaism, here is the answer as I understand it.

    Originally, before the times of the Flood, mankind had no permission to eat animals. We were supposed to be on a more Godly level, closer to that of the angels, and we were not supposed to need the sort of earthy indulgence that is meat.

    Our level of Godliness changed drastically after the Flood, and mankind was downgraded to an ” intelligent animal with a Divine soul.” As such, we were then permitted to indulge in the same foodstuffs as other animals, but we are ordered to sanctify it in the name of God. That’s why we make blessings over food and have ritual feasts on the Shabbas and holidays; it’s the same earthy act of eating, but with a special divinity that fulfills the needs of our Divine souls.

    By extension, anything that is required for a religious purpose is allowed to be taken from the animals, as they themselves are servants of God’s will. Anything outside that line is tzar baalei chayim and forbidden.

    That’s why religious garments–or garments in general, as modesty is seen as a Divine attribute–can be made of leather and fur, but the wanton persecution and torture of animals is expressly forbidden.

    Hunting for sport is forbidden, as is fishing for fish that you don’t plan to eat.

    Some opinions state that, upon the arrival of the Mashiach and the consequent spiritual renaissance of the world, mankind will once again raise itself to an almost angelic level wherein meat is no longer necessary.

  5. Anonymous

    “I briefly entertained hopes that the whole thing was a fabrication.”
    He must hope a lot of things…

  6. David,
    Change must come from within haredi culture, at the hands of respected rabbis.

    Which respected rabbis? Elyashiv? Kaniefsky? The Edah? The “respected” rabbis who sign off on Pashkvilim that incite people to riot? The ones who have ther students plant pipe bombs? The ones who encourage their followers to throw rocks at cars on Shabbos? The ones who cry out Kano’us and Chaptzem?

    If the majority of Charedim are “nonviolent” and wish for the madness to end, all they need to do is quit supporting the Rabbis, Rebbes, Dayanim, Roshei Yeshivos, Askanim, Manhigim, and Yoshvei Rosh of the various organizations. Quit donating to them, quit publicizing them, and quit placing these hateful scumfucks on a fucking pedestal.
    The system as a whole is nothing more than the sum of its parts. If Charedism as a whole is being viewed as hateful and violent, it is the fault of every individual Charedi who lends support to the system.

  7. David Bar-Magen

    The system as a whole is nothing more than the sum of its parts. If Charedism as a whole is being viewed as hateful and violent, it is the fault of every individual Charedi who lends support to the system.

    To an extent, yes, I agree with that.

    But yet, from personal experience, I’d venture to say that most of the rabbis’ rulings are often misconstrued and/or extrapolated by a core of black-garbed thugs–typically ones who have attained great status in the community–who I’d hesitate to describe as Jewish.

    They run a reign of terror and blackmail over dissenting haredi families, asserting that no-one has the right to interpret the statements of the rabbis except for them. Most of this “support,” then, that many haredim offer is petrified consent. After all, in a scoiety where one’s sixteen-year old daughter wearing lipstick is grounds for ostracization, there is a lot of mud to be slung.

    True, the gedolim have offered broad statements–particularly in the instance of the gay parade–that were misrepresented as calls to physical violence instead of the dogmatic, bottom-line statements that they were…but then these same rabbis also issued immediate calls for cessation of rioting as soon as they heard what their statements had caused.

    These statements of retraction are usually the ones that are lied about and misconstrued by the thugs, whose intentions are anything but noble.

    That’s why I say that it is these rabbis whose statements need to reflect a thorough balance; one that the street thugs can’t present as a call to extremism. That’s the only way that those haredim who are terrorized can begin to breathe free, and those who are extremistand violent can learn to calm down.

    Mere abhorrence and demonization of haredim will only provide further grounds for the “otherness” upon which extremism flourishes.

  8. Chaya

    I understand that Haredi men are not allowed to touch a woman who is not a close relative. So, how do punching, shoving and removing the hair covering of this Canadian grandmother fit in with this? Is it permitted to touch a non-relative female if one is assaulting her for ignoring their sensibilities?

    As an American, I am not sure that the lady in question suspected she would receive a more severe response than verbal harassment. We are not used to being physically attacked by those who disagree with us.

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