17 April, 2021

And Now, Jews Versus Jews

A second fault line is widening between the ultra-orthodox and the secular communities of strife-stricken Jerusalem

And Now, Jews Versus Jews

IN the summer of 1956, an angry group of about 50 men wearing black overcoats, black top-hats and shiny black shoes gathered outside the mayor’s office in West Jerusalem for a protest rally against the municipality’s decision to build a public swimming pool where bare-bodied men and women would be allowed to mingle freely. These protesters were members of the Haredim, a community of ultra-orthodox Jews. Back then, the small Haredi community,with its idiosyncratic dress and conservative lifestyle governed by the Torah—the Jewish scriptures—was on the margins of civic life in West Jerusalem. And while the protest attracted curious pedestrians and a few columns in the local papers, the swimming pool was built and life went on as before in West Jerusalem. Now, however, the Hare-dim is increasingly gaining in popular following and political clout. Five years ago, the Haredim launched a campaign against ‘immodest’ billboards put up by the Poster Media Company. This time, however, verbal condemnations gave way to arson, and...

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