Charedi activist Shraga Stern has agreed to stop his public campaign against Ofsted.
London’s charedi community has been split over how to handle the inspectorate’s attitudes toward Jewish schools. Chinuch UK preferred a diplomatic approach toward the Department of Education and its inspectorate whereas Stern initiated a high-profile campaign accompanied by the threat of legal action.
Last week, Dayan Ephraim Padwa of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations asked Stern to back down from his campaign. Stern told The Jewish Press, “I’ve always worked under the direction of the senior rabbis of the charedi community. I continue to do so. At the moment I am ceasing campaigning on their instructions.”
He added that he was sure his high-profile campaign has borne fruit and “now is the time for open dialogue and round-the-table discussions.”
Stern’s tough stance, however, seems to have been taken up by educational consultant Michael Cohen, who called, in the Jewish Tribune, for the dismissal of Ofsted head Amanda Spielman, whom he accused of conducting an “anti-religious programme.”
He suggested Jewish schools should not allow Ofsted to inspect their schools; alternatively, they should or arrange school outings on inspection days. He wrote, “As any kind of trust and confidence in Ofsted has been destroyed, our schools and mosdos should become more strident and assertive in dealing with Ofsted inspections.”
Jewish Identity and the Ultra-Orthodox Anti-Zionists Who Endanger the Very Existence of Israel
The clash between the secular and religious Jewish belief systems, between Zionists and non-Zionists, the diaspora versus the Israeli Jewish upbringing, the different religious sects are topics that, in one form or another, have been incorporated within the larger question of Jewish identity.
At one time, what tied every Jew together was not the Mezuzah on the door or the cost spent on a child’s Bar Mitzvah but an inflexible and unwavering belief that Jews should be educated, professional and self-sufficient. At one time and no matter the level of religious observance, being Jewish meant being educated and more importantly, meant contributing to society far more than the carbon footprint left behind or than what was taken from that community. There appeared to be underlying all else a determination to subsist as a self-sufficient people without the necessity to ever rely on outside assistance.
Without looking beyond the last 2 and 1/2 years since this website was established, there has been an evolution of Jewish values. In increasing numbers members of many ultra-Orthodox communities are teaching their children that secular education is unimportant and secular understanding of the world is irrelevant. They care not that children will grow up with insufficient understanding of the world to survive without the help of others.
We are finding at alarming rates within many ultra-Orthodox communities, secular Jews are not viewed as “Jews.” And increasingly the communities are closing their doors to outsiders and closing their shades so their children cannot see out.
With regard to education, we have a myriad of articles on the management by different countries of their systems when there is a clash between religious observance and state mandates. England has chosen to impose restrictions on curriculum to mandate education for its citizens, whereas in the US there are state mandates and in many cases there is a complete failure of certain states to demand that all children are educated with a minimum of secular understanding.
With regard to self-sufficiency within ultra-Orthodox communities, we have pages and pages of articles on the methods that many ultra-Orthodox communities have used to commit fraud, wherein the communities are relying on outside sources of welfare and other social services because they either cannot or will not fund their own communities.
The issue of education is not alone in the litany of topics that define the greater subject of Jewish identity. But what is now starting to weigh heavily on Jewish identity is the way in which Jews effect or affect the existence of the State of Israel.
In Israel, as unique from the rest of the world, the clashes as described in the first paragraph are compounded by the notion of Zionism, a belief in the existence of the Jewish state. And Israel’s problems are unique insofar as the entire country is surrounded by non-allies so it is expected, or at least hoped, that the Jews living within its own borders support the system of government, perform the army service required to keep the State safe, and comport to the educational system established to educate the children.
In Israel, the anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox sentiment is dangerous because of the very real foreseeable possibility that in a few years Israel will not be able to defend itself. In only a short time, the numbers of citizens who lack a basic understanding of secular subjects will outnumber the citizens who are well educated. And finally, it will not be long before the State of Israel cannot support its citizens, particularly those who live off of the social benefits and give nothing back.
The ultra-Orthodox Israelis who reject Zionism
Before the sun has a chance to rise, Israeli riot police tiptoe through one of Jerusalem’s oldest Jewish neighborhoods, their shadows dancing across lines of anti-Zionist graffiti decorating buildings and walls.
Their objective is to arrest residents in Mea Shearim for refusing Israel’s mandatory army draft and organizing against the state, according to community claims. They say such raids have occurred on a near nightly basis in the neighborhood for decades. However, in recent years Israel’s police operations have escalated in Mea Shearim.
In their telling, when Israeli forces break into homes during these overnight raids, ultra-Orthodox residents are dragged out of their beds and thrown into police vans.
Many in Mea Shearim, established in 1874, are part of the Eda Haredit, “Congregation of God-fearers” in English – an ultra-Orthodox group in Jerusalem that is also fiercely anti-Zionist.
Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld described a less recurrent scene. He was not able to provide the numbers of arrests carried out in the neighborhood over the past few months, but told Mondoweiss police units do not normally carry out night raids “unless there are specific individuals who the police know were involved in illegal demonstrations.”
The Eda Haredit opposes the Israeli state and any attempts at assimilating them into the larger Israeli society. The cloistered neighborhood of Mea Shearim has become a symbol for the group, whose members insulate themselves from state institutions and affairs as much as possible.
Eda Haredit members also reside in the Jerusalem-area city of Beit Shemesh and Safed in northern Israel.
Many of the group’s members are descendants of the Old Yishuv, Jews who resided in historic Palestine under Ottoman and then British rule.
Outside the homes of many Eda Haredit members in Mea Shearim hang signs that read: “Here lives a non-Zionist Jew.” Palestinian flags fluttering outside homes are a common sight here.
Eda Haredit members can often be found protesting the state and Israel’s army draft on the streets of Jerusalem. Israeli forces typically respond by dousing them in skunk spray – a noxious smelling liquid.
The members come prepared, even wrapping their black, wide-brimmed hats in protective plastic. When Israeli police releases skunk spray on the protesters, instead of running away, Eda Haredit members often sing and dance as the putrid concoction rains down on them.
The Israeli police have been accused of using excessive force on the demonstrators, including severely beating unarmed Eda Haredit members.
A century-long anti-Zionist struggle
Mordechai Mintzberg, a rabbi in Mea Shearim whose family resided in historic Palestine generations before Israel was founded, told Mondoweissthat the establishment of the Eda Haredit was a “counter reaction” to Zionism in the early 20th century.
According to Mintzberg, as Zionists tightened their grip on the British Mandate of Palestine following the Balfour Declaration in 1917, Jews were forced to determine their relationship to the Zionist movement.
“The ardent anti-Zionist Jews decided to establish a self-sufficient community that was unquestionably opposed to the Zionist movement,” Mintzberg says.
The Eda Haredit developed its own separate school system – taught entirely in Yiddish – and an independent religious court, known as a Badatz.
When Israel was established in 1948, the group’s struggle against Zionism intensified.
Although Israel has always hosted anti-Zionist Jews across the political spectrum, the Eda Haredit stands apart for the strict adherence to their beliefs.
In the early years of the Israeli state, Eda Haredit members refused to accept Israeli IDs and some even rejected the use of Israeli currency, Benjamin Brown, a professor of Jewish thought at Hebrew University, told Mondoweiss.
Other ultra-Orthodox groups identified with the self-proclaimed Jewish state and integrated into government institutions with their constituents now participating in Israel’s parliament. Leading political parties like Shas and Agudat Yisrael have members who are ultra-Orthodox yet ardently support the state of Israel.
The Eda Haredit considers these ultra-Orthodox groups “traitors” for “collaborating with the Zionist enemy,” Mintzberg said.
For the Eda Haredit, he says Israeli IDs and citizenship are now “forced” on the community, but members “do everything in [their] power to disassociate from the state.”
Eda Haredit members boycott elections and refuse to accept Israel’s national insurance. If members receive unwelcome assistance from the state, it is immediately placed into a fund dedicated to supporting members organizing against the Israeli army, Mintzberg said.
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JERUSALEM (JTA) — A man from the haredi Orthodox town of Bnei Brak was indicted for making death threats against leaders of the Reform movement and vandalizing a Reform synagogue.
The man, whose name has not been made public, was arrested last month and prosecutors asked that he be held in custody until the end of his trial. He was indicted Monday on charges of extortion, threats, vandalism and intent to commit arson.
He allegedly also targeted the left-wing Breaking the Silence organization and threatened well-known atheists in Israel.
The incidents date back to 2014.
In November 2016, hate graffiti was painted on the walls of the Kehilat Ra’anan Reform synagogue in Raanana and death threats left in envelopes held down by a knife addressed to prominent Reform leaders were left at its doorstep.
The phrase “The divine presence will never leave the Western Wall,” was spray-painted on the building, as well biblical references “Ovadia 18 and 21,” and “Psalms 139:21-22.” The Ovadia citation deals with the destruction of Israel’s enemies at the hand of a vengeful God. The Psalms citation states of enemies of God, “I hate them with utmost hatred; they have become my enemies.”
The letters were addressed to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism; Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism; and Anat Hoffman, chair of Women of the Wall and the head of the Israel Religious Action Center, the advocacy arm of the Reform movement in Israel. The threats came days after a protest for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall led by the Reform leaders.
It was the second time the Raanana synagogue had been vandalized. Similar graffiti has been painted on the walls of the synagogue in January 2016, though no death threats had been issued. The threats included arson against the synagogue.
The man also left threatening letters held down by knives and graffiti outside of the homes of Israeli atheists, and had information on activists for Breaking the Silence in order to leave similar messages. He reportedly also had purchased gasoline and other equipment in order to burn down the headquarters of Breaking the Silence.
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Haredim are not disciplined, they do what they want’
Northern police rabbi says haredi community can’t have it both ways, haredi community forces police to desecrate Shabbat against their will.
Israel Police North Division Rabbi Anshel Friedman on Wednesday morning spoke about the recent complaints about how Israel Police are preparing for the upcoming Lag Baomer celebrations.
Thousands of police officers will be expected to desecrate Shabbat in order to prepare for the influx of thousands of Israelis and tourists who will come to Meron on Saturday night and Sunday.
Lag Baomer is the anniversary of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s passing. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, also known by his initials as “Rashbi” is believed to be the author of the Zohar.
“You want the police to keep Shabbat?” Rabbi Friedman said. “The haredi community is not disciplined, and it does what it wants. For instance, on Friday afternoon, about 10-15 minutes after Shabbat starts, cars carrying haredim travel up the mountain – and the police have to be there to stop it.”
In an interview with the Kol Barama Radio, Rabbi Friedman said the police have “no interest” in working on Shabbat, and in fact want the police officers to rest on Shabbat.
“Until the haredi community, and other religious communities, decide they will not arrive in Meron before Sunday morning, the Israel Police will be forced to desecrate Shabbat in order to be on the scene when they are needed,” he said.
May 5, 2016
Tafkid, meaning position or job, is an organization in London created introduce Charedi children to life beyond their insular community, to teach subjects like English and Math and to help them find jobs. Ultimately, such an organization’s mission is to provide Charedi children with a future beyond Talmudic study and to reduce the poverty within the community.
The Charedi community in London has decided to warn their members that children should not be working. Any organization offering them a job, like “Tafkid” is actually enticing children to go “off the derech” (off the path). The clear statement in those words is that the community should not be self-sustaining and should live off of the provisions of others: for to work means to be misdirected.
The reality is that children who are introduced into the world beyond their insular community, who are educated beyond Talmudic studies, Yiddish and Torah represent a threat to the Charedim, not only in England but in the world writ large. When you deprive a child of an education, you are depriving that child a future. By keeping children from being properly educated and working you enslave that child forever.
That way of life is ultimately unsustainable.
Chareidim in London are freaking out because of a leaflet that offers them Jobs and Education
Below is a copy of the leaflet by an organization called “Tafkid” that offers Chareidim an opportunity to get an education or a job, Chas Ve’sholim!
The above “warning” is hinting that “Tafkid” wants to entice Jewish children to go “off the derech” …
I have a suggestion to the Chareidie leaders, if you don’t want organizations like Tafkid enticing your children …. make your own organization that helps children with free tutors and lessons in English and Math …
How about that?