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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-09-11 05:00 AM
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Israel’s Old-Time Religion
How government policies have caused the surge in ultra-Orthodox Judaism in Israel—and why it’s an economic disaster.

I'm standing in the Kerem Avraham neighborhood of Jerusalem. Across the street is the stone-faced building where Israeli novelist Amos Oz grew up in a small ground-floor apartment. Back then, in the 1940s, Kerem Avraham was home to "petty clerks, small retailers, bank tellers or cinema ticket sellers, schoolteachers or dispensers of private lessons," as Oz writes in his memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness. They observed the last vestiges of Judaism—lighting Sabbath candles on Friday night, attending services on Yom Kippur—and avidly argued fine points of secular Zionist ideology.

While I stand on the street, a flock of teenage girls walks by, dressed in blue blouses buttoned to the neck, pleated skirts, and high socks, so that no skin besides their faces and hands shows. A family passes, the husband in a circular, flat-topped black hat, his wife pushing a stroller, three more children younger than age 6 walking with them. The mother wears a wig, the common method for haredi (ultra-Orthodox) married women to hide their hair in modesty. On a cross street, I pass a kollel—a yeshiva where married men receive small salaries to study full-time.

Kerem Avraham today is one neighborhood in the haredi belt of northern Jerusalem, a land of wall posters denouncing television, Internet, and rival religious factions; of life-long Torah study for men and countless pregnancies for women; of schools that provide scant preparation for earning a living and no preparation at all for participating in a democratic society. The neighborhood began changing in the 1950s, after the rebellious young Oz moved to a kibbutz, which he left many years later.

Less than a mile from Amos Oz's childhood home is an apartment development put up several years ago for better-off haredim. The nine-story buildings surround a courtyard with a playground that is crowded with children in late afternoon. Underneath the buildings is a three-level parking garage, with small storerooms along the sides of the half-lit concrete caverns. The storerooms, a standard feature of Israeli apartments, belong to the residents who live above. But some of the small rooms have doorbells, names on the doors, water meters, and high windows looking into the dark garage. I hear the voices of a couple inside one, and an infant crying. Outside another is a metal rack on which laundry is drying. They've been rented out as apartments to young haredi families who can afford nothing else.

The picture above ground is of a thriving community. Beneath the surface one can see one part of the price being paid by the haredim themselves, and by Israel as a whole, for the peculiar development of ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel.

The first article in this series is here:
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Scurrilous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 02:34 PM
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1. Rabbi breaks 1,000 TV sets
Many attend Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak's modern 'Tashlich' ceremony outside Israel Broadcasting Authority building in Jerusalem,7340,L-4158924,00.html


"Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak held a protest against television and its products on Tuesday evening, during which 1,000 (relatively old-fashioned) TV sets were thrown into large garbage bins.

The modern "Tashlich" ceremony was held outside the Israel Broadcasting Authority's building in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Yitzhak is famous for his activities which are centered on helping Jews to become more religious or observant.

Many of the participants expressed their solidarity with the act, explaining that the television is a device which must never enter an ultra-Orthodox home."


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