"She protects me? I sit at shul from eight in the morning till midnight and study, and she's protecting me? I protect her."

Says an Israeli ultra-orthodox Haredi Jew who pays no taxes, refuses to serve in the military and enjoys fully subsidized public housing and benefits.

He is explaining why it is okay for an unemployed religious nut to call a female soldier  a “whore” and a “slut” on a public bus for refusing to give up her seat.  And why it’s okay to dress like Auschwitz prisoners and claim that “Israel persecutes Jews worse than Hitler” because they’re not allowed to spit on women.

For gentiles who don’t know what he is talking about:  he is claiming that grown men who collect welfare in order to read the same five chapters of the bible (over and over all day long) are not, in fact, lazy assholes.

Sound familiar?

Remind you of Al Qaeda?  Southern Baptists?   Every cult every dreamed up?

Me too.


Haredi Burqa Sect

The Haredi burqa sect is a religious group, primarily concentrated in Israel, in which ultra-Orthodox Jewish (Haredi) women claim that modesty calls for a burqa-style covering of the entire body, a shal (plural shalim, english shawl), including a veil covering the face. The garment, which looks more like a niqab than a burqa, is also called frumka, a play of the word frum (Yiddish for devout) and burqa. The group, which was estimated to number around 100 in 2008 and several hundred in 2011, is concentrated in the town of Beit Shemesh.

The issue has proven controversial in Haredi circles, with vocal condemnation of the face covering veil by some Haredi organizations, including Edah HaChareidis.

Meet Hani and Zviki. “In our society we have prearrange marriage” says Zviki. “After three meetings I knew Hani is THE girl and asked her to marry me. In the beginning it was a bit embarrassing, but we had such good chemistry so all the shyness just faded away”.

Hani adds: “People have misconceptions about ‘Haredim’. Nobody forced me to get married and I’m Happy that I choose Zviki. I had couple of options before but than he came along. In the secular world, you fall in love. In our world - you grow in love”.

Photo credit:Humans of Tel Aviv

One nation, many cultures

He and his son, no older than five, sat down next to me.  This was really quite unexpected. I always assume black hats will stay away from women. Shomer negiah, kol isha, yichud, I could make a list that goes on forever of why.

"What’s your name?" I asked the little boy, attempting to make friendly conversation.

"He only speaks Yiddish," answered his father in a thick Yiddish accent. I nodded, understandingly.  I was used to this, oddly enough.  And the boy, he stared at me with eyes wide as a full moon, taking in the whole situation. He was not used to this, he had probably never seen anyone secular before. 

"How many kids do you have?" I asked the man.

"Fifteen children, fifteen grandchildren, and four more on the way, baruch hashem," he answered. I was comforted by his use of Hebrew. It meant two things: 1) he was attempting to make friendly conversation with me; 2) he was not Satmar.

"My mother is from a family of nine," I told him.

"That’s what I like to hear," he said "I am too." I smiled politely. "How many cousins do you have?" he asked.

"Thirty or so, I lost count," I admited.

"I lost count too, I had nearly two hundred cousins growing up. It’s different with your own family though," he said, adjusting his hat as he watched his son squirm in his chair. 

"What’s your son’s name?" I asked, pointing to the little squirmy black hat.

"Mendel-Meyer," answers his father, the big black hat.

"Mendy," I called to the boy. Recognition appeared in his shy eyes before he looked at his father for assurance.

"Do you know any Yiddish?" the man asked me.

"Not really," I confessed. On my mother’s side I’m Moroccan and Tunisian, aside from "schmuk," and "alte mobel" which means old furniture, I’ve got nothing.

"What language are you going to speak when the Massiah comes?" he asked me.

"Judeo-Arabic," I tell him.

"Okay," he says, watching his son squirm in his chair some more. I gave him an answer he didn’t want, and in response, he could do nothing but wait beside me. 

The story is told of the scantily clad young woman on a Tel Aviv bus who has an apple shoved in her face by a Haredi man and is told to eat. She takes a bite, and then asks why he had demanded this of her. He replied, “because when Eve ate the apple, she knew she was naked.” The young woman then demands of the Haredi man that he take a bite; he does so and asks why. And she says, “because when Adam ate the apple, he knew that he had to go work.”

Today: Went to watch “Fill the Void” directed by Rama Burshtein with Martina. Good storyline about a girl dealing with death and marriage that’s backed up with some really unique documenting shots of the ultra-orthodox lifestyle. I think I want to watch it twice just to pick up on anything I miss and get a better sense of the story. Not sure why but I find Hasidic Jews super interesting, something about how insular and ritualized they are.

Oh yeah, Yiftach Klein, take me.

Taken during Tisha B’av 5573

Despite all the tensions and the conflict we read about in the media; ultimately, the Jewish people are a family. Despite our differences in our beliefs and the way we lead our lives we have the potential to be a united force. The Second Beit Hamikdash was destroyed because of Sinat Chinam and the only way to reverse that process is through Ahavat Chinam. 

הנה מה טוב ומה נעים שבת אחים גם יחד

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers also to dwell together! (Tehillim 133:1)


Even while traveling the Tambler rebbe had his beis medresh with him. But of course not everyone was happy with it…

After some time I heard a chassidish man saying to his wife “DUS iz di heintiger yetzer horo!” (That’s the yetzer hora of these days).

I just ignored him and smiled at his little outburst. I had literally thousands of seforim on me. Even many more than lots of batei midrashim have. How many seforim did this yingerman have on him? Two maybe? (I didn’t see even one).

I was learning 3.5 hours straight with my ‘yetzer hora`. What did HaRav Yingerman do all this time? Talking, sleeping, eating, talking, joking, sleeping, etc.

Can people really not just acknowledge that technology can be used for good things too? After all, didn’t the Baal Shem Tov say that good things can be found even in the bad. That everything is created with the ability to do both good and evil.

Oh well…
Even if it is a yetzer hora, it says we have to serve Hashem with both our yetzer hatov and our yetzer hora. ;-)


looks like an interesting movie…anyone saw it?

Watch on invisible-lady.tumblr.com

Riots in Beit Shemesh as Haredim try to stop police forces from removing signs excluding women and to stop media outlets from filming.

Years ago, in one of the poor haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem, a guy tried to burgle an apartment, or rob it, I can’t recall, and got caught. They tackled him, clobbered him, and then frog-marched him to the nearest payphone where they made him make the call to the cops, because, Shabbat.

I recall this because it was being discussed on an Orthodox blog I read, and they were debating if it was appropriate to make another Jew violate Shabbat under those circumstances, or if his captors were obligated to make the call themselves.

My third option proposal was that they could have duct-taped him to a chair, and treated him as an extra Shabbos guest until sundown the next day. Spoon-feeding him cholent, and moving the chair so he could get in a little learning.