Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Toldot Aharon and a missing Mechitzah

Sukkot 5772 / 2011: No gender separation in Mea Shearim Street.

Photo: Miriam Woelke


This year, the Toldot Aharon were not allowed to set up a gender separation (Mechitzah) in Mea Shearim Street as well as in the market nearby. All the years before on Sukkot, the road had been devided by a fence wrapped in a kind of plastic folie or curtain. 

It was Israel's Supreme Court not allowing any further gender separation during Sukkot. The Toldot Aharon are upset but don't care too much about the "Zionist" court decision. The group's speaker, Rabbi Shmuel Pappenheim, stated in an interview that the Toldot Aharon do set up a Mechitzah around their own Beit Midrash and don't care whether the Supreme Court has anything to complain about that.

I had expected it but was still disappointed when I saw the proof: As in the year before, strangers where not allowed into the Ezrat Nashim (women's side) of the Toldot Aharon Synagogue during the Simchat Beit HaSho'eva celebrations. Me and a friend accompanying me already thought about dressing up as TA and just say WOS WOS all the time. :-)

Here the poster telling women who are not Toldot Aharon not to come to their Beit Midrash during Sukkot

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Let me tell you one more thing: Sukkot in Mea Shearim without the crazy Mechitzah and the modesty bridge is just not the same fun !!!


  1. B'H

    This is their neigborhood. I don't understand why the Zionists are involved in the issue. if people from Tel Aviv or other untzniusdike women are making a fuss because of the Mechitzah, the solution is quite simple: don't enter Meah Shearim during Simchas Beis Hashoeva.

    In the past years, the Toldos Aharon and other chasidic courts were very kind to open the neighborhood to EVERY JEW wishing to celebrate with them. The greatest "thank you" would have been for the outsiders to respect the neighborhood. But we all know that this was not what happened. Some outsiders seized the occasion to walk in the streets of Meah Shearim dressed as if they were going at the beach. Some others seized the occasion that the doors of Meah Shearim were open to argue with locals about Zionism and their lifestyle, some were kissing in the streets, some other were walking hand in hand, etc. They behaved in MS as if they were at Miami Beach. This is the reason why the Toldos Aharon and others decided to react, and made the rules more stringent during that period. And this is for the same reason less and less local families want to open their doors on Shabbos to outsiders, while it was common practice in the past. The outsiders don't know to respect the locals and don't behave respectfully when they are in Meah Shearim.

    Add to that the fact during SBH, thousand and maybe tens of thousand of men are in the streets and the Synagogues, while we all know that the streets of MS are too narrow. I know plenty of Charedi women (the majority) who would almost feel raped if they were touched too closely by men. Is it difficult to understand? With all those tens of thousand of people in the streets of MS during SBH, there is no solution than dividing the streets and "segregating". It's not against women, it's a question of tznius. Alle the men are not perverts, they simply don't want to be in a close contact with women, and the same with women: many don't want to be touched or be too close to a man, because they want to be touched only by relatives, their husbands, etc. I don't understand why the outsiders and non-Charedi people cannot understand that!

  2. B"H

    Mea Shearim doesn't only belong to the Toldot Aharon but other people not being TA live there as well. And many of those locals are against the Mechitzah on Sukkot.

    Why the Supreme Court interfered ?

    Because the Mechitzah is being set up a few days before Sukkot starts. By the way, the Mechitzah only takes place during Sukkot and not on Pessach, for example.

    What the Toldot Aharon have done in the past years is closing of the entire Mea Shearim Street. This took place on every evening during Chol HaMo'ed Sukkot.

    They closed the road without any permission from the police or municipality.

    Of course they need space to walk for all those people but you cannot close a main road. Egged bus no. 1 couldn't pass and no further car.

    This is one reason why the Supreme Court interfered.

    I remember that about two years ago, the Toldot Aharon had another fight with their split - off, the Toldot Avraham Yitzchak. It was about serving Tsholent on Sukkot or something. The TA closed off the entrances to the Mea Shearim market and the TAY claimed that this happened in order to prevent visitors from coming to the TAY Synagogue.

    I know Rabbi Chaim Cohen from the Toldot Avraham Yitzchak and he used to invite outsiders for Shabbat but had to stop. He told me that many too many visitors came on tour buses parking in HaNevi'im Street. After a while, Rabbi Cohen found a demonstration in front of his house where his neighbours asked him to stop all these seculars from coming on buses.

    According to my experience, it is not that much trouble and immodesty caused bu secular visitors but by the national religious. You should see how the Dati Le'umi girls behave at the Ezrat Nashim when they start fighting about Zionism.

  3. "Of course they need space to walk for all those people but you cannot close a main road. Egged bus no. 1 couldn't pass and no further car.

    This is one reason why the Supreme Court interfered."

    I understand your opinion, but don't you know that the laws of the medinah and "Dina d'Malchusa Dina" do not apply in Meah Shearim, as they don't recognize the medinah?

    We should give them the right to do whatever they want in THEIR neighborhood.

    You won't agree with that, but we should agree to disagree on that point!

  4. B'H

    This is what we can call incitement and provocation from the secular world: http://www.vosizneias.com/93281/2011/10/22/

    They want to make a point that they have the right to walk freely in any place at any time, in this country, but the seculars are the first to complain when Haredi and Religious Jews move to a mainly secular neighborhood, as if Religious Jews had the right only to live in Haredi neighborhood. So, if they don't want to see Haredi in their neighborhood, why are they bothering Haredim living in Haredi neighborhoods? People like to focus on "Hardi extremism", but are quick to close their eyes on "Secular extremism".

  5. B"H

    I don't agree with the freedom of every neighbourhood to do whatever the population wants. Also Mea Shearim is a public place in Jerusalem and not every inhabitant does agree with the Toldot Aharon and the streets being closed off during Sukkot. I could understand when they only set up the Mechitzah very close to their Beit Midrash, the Shomrei Emunim neighbourhood or parts of the market but the entire Mea Shearim Street is an exaggeration.

    This is my opinion.

    I guess that all those visitiors come to Mea Shearim on Sukkot because there are the best Simchat Beit HaSho'eva celebrations. Seeing the Rebbes and getting a great chassidic atmosphere.

    On the other hand, and this is what I don't support:

    1. Paid self - appointed guides take seculars as well as national religious to Mea Shearim and tell them whatever. In my opinion, only Haredim or people who have actively lived in society have the right to explain something. Personally I do not accept any statement or explanation from a tour guide who has never lived in haredi society. This is just a joke but, unfortunately, many people (mostly seculars themselves) have discovered this topic as an income.

    2. Visitors coming to Mea Shearim and having no clue about any chassidic group, what the group stands for, its history or Rebbe. I have seen national religious girls at Tishes who didn't even know the name of the group.

  6. B"H

    Moshe is right. It seems the left love to ridicule us Charedim. I don't walk around with a tour guide pointing at chilonim and how they live.

    Mutual respect needs to be given both ways. And it seems for some who choose to visit Charedi communities with the intention of ridiculing and insulting those of us who choose to live an Torah lifestyle.

    If they were not raised this way then they won't be able to understand our way of life.

  7. B'H

    The councilwoman who initiated the petition to the Supreme Court was fired: http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=242574

  8. B"H

    There are Chilonim, from Tel Aviv, for instance, who are fascinated by the Mea Shearim world and this is why they go for a visit. And there are those going with a tour guide which I think is terrible. I have heard those guides talking and they are much worse than the national religious or secular public.