Wednesday, September 29, 2010


The March on Meah Shearim

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

Meah Shearim is a 150 year old isolationist ultra-orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem.  It’s the first neighborhood built outside the walls of the Old City after the revival of Israel had begun.  It’s name stands for “100 Gates”, and literally each home added that extended the neighborhood had (and still has) thick outer walls, huge iron shutters and bars behind it on the windows…and a large iron gate.  At night every home closed it’s shutters and gates and the neighborhood became a secure warren from the not-so-occasional marauding Arab bandits.

Today the neighborhood is home to a number of major chassidic courts and chassidic yeshivot and thousands of the most isolationist ultra-orthodox families in the world.

That doesn’t mean the neighborhood isn’t also dotted with cell phone stores, furniture shops, Judaica stores, and a number of major Jewish charities are headquartered there.

Every Succot the chassidic courts throw a massive neighborhood wide holy party in honor of Simchas Beis HaShoevah – the water drawing festival held when the Beis HaMikdash (the holy temple) existed about which it’s written “if one didn’t see the happiness of the water drawing festival one has never seen happiness in his life”.  The party is open to all Jews (who are willing to come dressed modestly.)

Each chassidic court brings in a live chassidic band and has gender segregated dancing from 8:00 PM – 4:00 AM all week long.  Besides the music and dancing, free food and drink is served as well.

It’s a sight to behold with tens of thousands of chassidim dance together with tens of thousands of guests.

However, since the neighborhood is a bastion of ultra-orthodox Judaism, the mixed gender crowding became a problem as the narrow streets thronged with tens of thousands of guests.  Being concerned about men pushing through groups of women and women pushing through groups of men, the neighborhood decided to segregate the (blocked off) streets.  One side for men, one side for women…with an actual canvas fence down the middle to keep shoving ending up with men and women falling into each other.

It was a reasonable solution to allow the public to join their neighborhood celebration while maintaining neighborhood standards.  The fence installation and removal was paid for by the neighborhood and agreed by the police.  The police don’t provide security for the neighborhood during this event…the neighborhood provides their own security service.

This year during early discussions someone suggested that due to the growing size of the crowds versus the capacity of the streets, and that the majority of the events are attended by men and only smaller events are operating for the women…that the main entries to the neighborhood be open for men only and a separate path be for women.  This suggestion was publicized but ultimately rejected by the organizing committee who set up the same pattern as last year, equal but segregated street paths.

Now, hearing this online a group in Tel Aviv immediately filed a LAWSUIT with the SUPREME COURT of ISRAEL for violation of equal public access and a demand to have a protest march through the neighborhood (in the midst of a 100,000 person festival).  The City of Jerusalem defended arguing that the pattern frankly works given the small streets into the neighborhood, that a protest march would be inciting a riot.

The Supreme Court ruled that the protestors were right, ordered the street partitions removed (since they couldn’t order the stopping of full street segregation because it wasn’t happening!) and that the police must allow a march.

Today the partitions were removed (the festival ended at midnight last night) and the police escorted 50 (fifty whole protestors who have never been to Meah Shearim before) from the Jerusalem Central Bus Station through Geulah but NOT to Meah Shearim.  All of Jerusalem and Geulah were shut down on a busy pre-holiday (before Simchas Torah) so 50 secular Israeli protestors could make a point.



  1. I think the separation was a terrible idea - fanatical even and absolutely without any authentic Jewish source or base. We have always lived in small crowded Jewish ghettos and this idea was not even conceived during those times.

    I guess haredim are all about yirah without chessed. Now I understand why people say the are no true chassidim anymore. Judaism is about unity, community, tolerance - not about our own chumras, fears and personal isolation.

  2. Good response Chaim. I want to be at a Jewish festival with my family by my side, not segragated. It's simply not the Torah of haShem. That's the problem.

    I was honored to be able to build a sukkah in Meah Shearim for some normal Charedim. Some of the little punk kids of the neighborhood had some stones in their hands telling me to come near them. Why, I wasn't dressed like a polish aristocrat, so that means that I am not Jewish. These little 'erev rav' dreck would stone the Mashiach. That you can take to the bank.

    Earlier there was a lady who got into her car who the little brat's decided that she was not dressed appropriatly. She was dressed modestly, but not to their standards. So they stoned her car. The son of the kablan I was with who are Chassidic said that she will never come to the Torah because of these brats. He is right.

    On one hand, they deserve everything that comes their way. Many of them commit chilul haShem by the second. On one hand we love them because they are 'jews', on the other hand their behaviour is dispicable. For even the goyim don't act this way.

    Don't ever wonder why we are constantly harassed by the goyim. Why we have so many troubles. Until the ultra's wake up and clean up their shtick, don't plan on any changes in our favor. Plan on a very hard geulah. I don't blame the secular, as they may not know better. But the religious have absoulutly NO reason to behave this way. Shame on the rabbi's who allow their flocks to act this way. They don't act like haShems in any way. Their prayers are for nothing. That is a promise.

    This is of course not all. There are normal charedim. But the evil ones outweigh the good. Dark is stronger then the light.

  3. haman was hung by 50 amot so will the amalak of the erev rav within ISRAEL !!!!!!

  4. Anon, you don't know who the erev rav are in Israel. They are not all the secular, nor are they all the religious. They are some of each. They are either direct decendents or reincarnations. They will both do t'shuvah or let's let haShem take care of them. But either way, they both need to clean up their act.

  5. I have a feeling those kids' parents don't know they're stoning people. These kids give a bad name to all Jews. And they possibly retain this hatred for those "below" them when they grow up. What a shame and chilul Hashem!

  6. You guys don't give an inch, no kav schut for your brothers. Yet you will complain in a big way when it's not offered to you.

  7. Sorry Akiva, little drech throwing stones will get zero from me. I don't give a damn what anyone thinks, this garbage has to stop. It is a huge disgrace to haShem and the Jewish Nation. If someone makes an honest error, either in Torah or in any other matter in life, of course we should always judge in favor, agreed. We all error. But when they are such a complete disgrace to humanity with sub human behaviour, they must be judged, and harshly at that. Rocks can kill. What arrogance that they think they can kill someone because that person does not follow the idolotry of dressing like polish aristocates, wear 'peot' which is not from the Torah but a tradition from the Yemenite Jews who wore them to differentiate between Jews and Arabs (attempt to prove me wrong on this one), concentrate on mitzvoth of men (rabbinical fences) while ignoring simple lessons from the Torah on how to treat others. Its been too long for the ultra Orthodox community to ignore this non sense and do nothing about it.

    They should pick up the stones and start stoning themselves for transgressing the Torah. You and the other two on this site can make a difference and start speaking to your fellow rabbis to change this disgraceful behaviour.

    Lastly Akiva, you don't know me personally and have zero clue to how much I respect and go out of my way to help the charedim and chasidim when in their communities. What do I get in return, nothing but death threats. I greet them with kindness, only to be looked down upon. I wish them shabbat shalom with no reply. I respect thier traditions when in their home, business or synagogue. Would they respect me in my home. Never.

    Look back in the Tanach, or the talmud when we, as a nation got hammered, it all points to how we bahaved towards each other. If haShem where to send a messenger that disagreed with the 'rabbi's', he is to be killed according to the Rambam. This is from haShem, give me a break already. This is from the other side, whatever conclusion you may wish to pick.

    I have been told by some very knowledgable rabbi's that I have done more to bring the geulah then anyone. I won't give any details. Does this exclude me from being treated simply with respect. Nothing more?

    So saying that 'you guys' don't give a fair judgement is in itself wrong. Read carefully about what I say when transgressing unintentionally, it's absoulutly fine and human. The secret is to stop acting like gods You knowwhat, haShem will send us that messenger we hate, He will send us that Mashiach we never wanted.

    Enough said. Have a wonderful week.


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