Sunday, April 25, 2010

"National Religious : Haredi"


Photo: Israelity


Last Erev Shabbat (Friday night) I went for a Shabbat meal to Mea Shearim. One of the couples I know there likes to invite several guests every Shabbat. Either haredi Yeshiva students or haredi seminary girls.

As soon as they have guests in the house, men and women sit in different rooms. When the host is making Kiddush, we females don't see him very much but only hear his words due to the separation. Those of you who have been to the Rebbitzen of Toldot Aharon on Shabbat know that the same procedure is taking place there. Only that the two gender rooms are only connected by a small window inside the wall.

The day before yesterday, about thirty males were streaming in and we females became a minority. The result was that the women had to change rooms with the men, as their room was much larger. The females stepped into the kitchen and were waiting there until the men had entered the larger living room. Then we got to our smaller room.
We females consisted of four haredi Israeli women, one American, the host, her daughter as well as some grandchildren. After making Kiddush, a group of seven or eights young national religious girls walked in. They were still in school and about 17 or 18 years old. Just before their social service (when national religious girls don't join the army, they do social service) Sherut Leumit. Usually Israeli national religious don't respect the haredi population too much. The worst gossip against Haredim doesn't come from secular Jews but from the national religious movement.

There have been complaints from chassidic groups lately that the national religious come to chassidic Tishes and start arguing with the Chassidim as well as with their wives. As soon as those girls walked in last Friday night, they started arguing with our chassidic host.
I don't know what national religious schools such a Noam teach their students about Haredim. Probably nothing but if I don't like Haredim I don't go there for a meal in order to start a fight !

Furthermore, one has to know our host because she is hard to describe. Her life is based on the theology of the Chatam Sofer: No changes in Torah and in life. Whatever she learned from her mother, she keeps up and sticks to tradition. She once told me that whatever her mother kept and was good for her, cannot be bad for the next generation.
Our host is a very nice and friendly woman. It is possible to talk to her and she does listen. However, she has her priorities and expresses them sometimes too fast.

As soon as the national religious girls started eating, they also started arguing. That Haredim would be strange.
"In what way "strange" ?" our host asked.
"Well, everything is always separated. Men and women don't sit together".
"Why should they ? Our family has traditions and we keep them alive", said our host.
"But you don't have to make a gender separation. What if your kids are different from you and don't keep up tradition ?"
"My children are very happy and took over even more Chumrot then I ever did".
"But did your children have the chance to choose if they really won't to be haredi ? Why haredi ? Maybe they want to be like us (national religious) ?"
"My children are happy in haredi society and don't want to be anything else".

I was sitting there and listening to this and just thought that, if it wasn't Shabbat, I would love to record the argument for Youtube.

However, the national religious didn't give up:
So, you are wearing a wig. Can't you just put on a hat or Schmattes ?"
"The wig is my hair cover and I like it. I am modest even if other Haredim don't think that I am modest and oppose wigs".
"Do you read newspapers and what about Zionism ?"
"I don't want to get into the subject". Our host still remained friendly.

The National Religious 

Then the girls started arguing with one of the other haredi female guests.
Our host wanted to change the subject and asked for the girl's names. Most of them didn't have a biblical name but something modern Israeli. This is what our host cannot stand because the Jews had kept their names in Egypt and today Israeli parents love to change the tradition and call their children something in modern Hebrew.

The discussion about the gender separation continued and our host was a kind of fed up for a minute. She said that Haredim are no animals and don't act according to their personal desires.
This drove the national religious mad, as they thought that our host meant that everyone else is an animal. One almost walked out and the others started arguing with everyone haredi in the room.

In the end, our host became very friendly with two of the girls because she found out that they have chassidic ancestors (Gur and Sadigura). The atmosphere began to change towards the two girls whereas the rest of the national religious was still arguing.

It was an interesting evening and not boring at all. Nevertheless, I would not go to a national religious family and tell them that their life is wrong and they have to become Haredim. Members of the national religious movement have that desire but, on the other hand, have no idea about haredi society.


  1. thank you for this report. very interesting. isnt it typical for our people to abuse shabbos meals for political purpose? in my city (in germany) there is one "conservadox" synagogue, where the elected gabbaim during the shabbos-morning-kiddushim frequently start to sermon about political matters, in order to influence the mesubim into this or that direction, always annoying some of the present mispallelim. it is due to a lack of jiddishkait, to damage the shabbos-athmosphere, arguing about politics or religion. isnt it even a gentile principle, not to talk about relious nor political opinions while having dinner?
    on the other hand sometimes it might be a question of priorities: if there is nothing but a one and only chance to say necessary but embarassing words, one might decide for oneself to speak or to keep quiet. but on shabbos-meals only pikuach nefesh or to retort chillul-hashem-statements might be permitting to open ones mouth. yaacov

  2. B"H

    Hi Yaacov,

    You could have read the story in German as well. On Hamantaschen.:-)

    The national religious girls admitted that they came in order to see a Mea Shearim family.
    However, it has become really popular among them to come to Mea Shearim on Erev Shabbat, walk around in Synagogue and start arguing with the Haredim. Especially about Zionism and that Mea Shearim should support the Israeli government.

    I do call this an interference and disturbing on Shabbat. Especially because those national religious coming have no idea about Haredim and the Mea Shearim life. Let alone anti - Zionist ideology.

    No Haredi is going to the national religious Synagogues and starting a discussion there.

  3. Yes, in Egypt the names of the women were Soroh Soshe and Chana Shprintze.

    What arrant nonsense.

  4. B"H

    You forgot CHAYA MUSHKA ! :-))))))