New York – Op-Ed By Rabbi Yakov Horowitz: Occupy Beit Shemesh!! Time for the 99% to Be Heard

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    An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man (L) argues with a secular man during a protest against the government's pledge to curb Jewish zealotry in Israel, in the town of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem December 26, 2011.. ReutersNew York – The ongoing violence in Beit Shemesh by hooligans has taken an even uglier turn recently as it is being directed against school-age children and their parents. It is now receiving front-page international coverage due to the involvement of Israeli elected officials at the highest levels.

    As the colossal Chilul Hashem and distortion of genuine Torah values is escalating, it is incumbent on decent Jews worldwide to do our part to distance ourselves from this behavior and loudly proclaim that this is not the way of our Torah. It is of paramount importance that we do so not only before the media and the world at large, but also that we explain this to our impressionable children in the starkest of terms. Our work with children and teens over the years has clearly indicated that “Hate Does not Have an Off Button” – meaning that the toxic message of intolerance is one that has long-term harmful effects.

    Many people in our community insist, “Everyone understands that these are a small bunch of radicals who do not have the support of any rabbinic leaders.” But that is simply not the message resonating around the world nowadays.

    The 1% is getting all the media attention due to the passiveness of the 99%.

    Several years ago, readers of this website conducted our own peaceful “hafgana” (protest) when the demonstrations in Eretz Yisroel were spinning out of control, by writing respectful emails to the editors of The Jerusalem Post and Ha’aretz condemning the violence in the clearest terms.

    By all accounts, it was very successful as each of the papers received more than 100 emails from Jews worldwide. The Jerusalem Post designated a letters-to-the-editor section, where they printed many of the responses and actually wrote a column noting that there was a grass-roots movement by charedi Jews worldwide condemning the violent behavior.

    We respectfully ask that you do the same at this critical time – with the eyes of the world focused on Beit Shemesh. Kindly take a few moments to cut and paste this message or write something along these lines and email them to

    [email protected]

    [email protected]

    [email protected]

    “As a Torah Jew, I am deeply distressed by the harassment and violence in Beit Shemesh – all of which is diametrically opposed to the teachings of our Holy Torah. Lest our silence be misconstrued as passive acceptance of this behavior, we condemn it in the strongest terms, as do the vast, overwhelming, majority of Torah Jews worldwide.”

    We ask that you show public support for this effort by posting your name and the city where you live as a comment on the bottom of this thread so that members of our community and the media at large can see that this is a broad-based effort.

    Thank you very much for your time and may this effort be helpful in restoring k’vod shamayim.

    Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, and founder and Director of Project Y.E.S. (Youth Enrichment Services). He is recognized throughout the Jewish community as an authority on raising children in these troubled times.


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