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Friday, April 14, 2006


OK, I will tell you outright before I even get started that I am a huge proponent of the death penalty. I think the only way in which a society can truely call itself civilized is to hold people accountable for their actions, and I strongly believe that there are actions and transgressions that warrant the proper retribution of death. That being said, I am very upset and disheartened that Israel does not have the death penalty, and I hope that fact changes some day. However, this article is not about the death penalty. If any-one would like to have a debate about it, that's fine, but that's not the point of this article.

A couple of weeks ago, in the Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox sect) section of Jerusalem, a young Haredi man was taking a nap. His infant child was crying in the next room. The incessent noise was bothering his sleeping father. So what does he do to quiet his child down? Why he goes into the room, grabs the baby, and throws the child against the wall. The child is taken to the hospital with massive trauma to the head, and the father is arrested. Shortly after, the child dies, and his "father" is now facing murder charges. A horriffic crime that deserves just punishment.

What has been the Haredi community's response? Have they expressed sorrow? Have they expressed rage against this horrendous act that this father has committed? Have they screamed for justice? In a word, NO!!! Instead, they have called this a government conspiracy against the Haredi community. They have claimed this man's innocense and have simply said that this is the government's way of framing a Haredi man and making a mockery out of the Ultra-Orthodox community. This morning, the newspaper, Maariv reported that there were riots and fires in the Haredi community in Jerusalem to protest the arrest and prosecution of the young man. Well, they are calling it religious persecution.

I must state straight out. This is in no way a reflection of the Haredi community, as a whole. These people are committing what in Judaism is called a Chillul HaShem; a "Desecration of the Name". The name is G-d. They are desecrating G-d. Most people get confused about this law because they say a Chilul HaShem can only be committed by Jews in front of non-Jews. They are wrong. The worst Chilul HaShem is when it is committed by Jews in front of fellow Jews. I am what would be called a Modern Orthodox Jew. I keep the Sabbath, and I keep Kosher, and all supplamenting laws, but I wear pants, I have a job, and go to school, etc. Even-though I come from a Hasidic back-ground, my family has never kept the superficial traditions of the our sects. My dad never wore a big furry hat, the coat, the stockings (that's really only followed by a couple of sects of Hasidut), the belt, and whatever superficiality is associated with Hasidim. We followed other traditions when it came to prayers and certain things we did on holidays. I will admit, though, that I do have numerous problems with the Ultra-Orthodox sect of Judaism. I believe that they partake in what I call the "Catholicization of religion". They go out of their way to place stricter rules and traditions upon themselves to the point where it doesn't even resemble the original law, and, many times, after the tradition has been followed for many years, they think that Jews that don't follow the rules their way are doing it wrong. This leads to riffs within the various communities in the religion. It is things like this that led to the destruction of the Second Temple; Sinat Chinum, "Baseless Hate".

That qualification being made, I think that what this community is doing in defense of this horrific murderer is absolutely disgusting and abhorring. They should be demanding justice for a little child who could do nothing to protect itself from a "father" who couldn't control his anger and annoyance. It's fine to say that, of course, this man is innocent until proven guilty (although the evidence against him is overwhelming). That is perfectly legitimate and expected. But, to start protesting and claiming that this is nothing more than a conspiracy against the Haredi community is deplorable. Every reigning Rabbi and religious authority in the country, for that matter, the world, should be standing up and publically calling for this specific Haredi community to stop making such a terrible Desecration. They should also be calling for justice for this infant's killer and, of course, for a fair trial.

If we, as a Jewish community, do not say anything to condemn this kind of behavior than we have no right to call ouselves G-d-fearing Jews. WE should be defending the victim here, the infant. That is it.


At 10:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your feelings. Its just hard to know where the chillul hashem, the sinat chinum, and the loshon hora begin and end. It's an awful situation all around.

At 8:45 PM, Blogger saba said...

yea it is horrible what happened and how people understand things the wrong way and always thing its something against their religion, race or gender. They tend to forget what is important which is the CRIME.

At 3:35 AM, Blogger anonimoh2005 said...


By Anshel Pheffer
Jerusalem Post -

April 11, 2006

Yisrael Valis had just finished saying kaddish over the body of his three-month-old son before the funeral Monday evening in Jerusalem when his wife cried out to him, "You didn't do anything, I know that. And you didn't do anything to me. They can connect me to a lie-detector, it's the truth."
Since Valis himself admitted to police investigators that he had brutalized his baby son and battered his wife on several occasions, the protestations of his innocence would seem to be the symptomatic denial of a victim of severe domestic violence, eager like other women in her situation to take the blame upon herself. But in this case, the denial isn't only the bereaved mother's; it's the denial of an entire community.
Perhaps the most tragic detail of Yitzhak Shmuel's death is the fact that, if his condition hadn't been so critical that his father had to call for an ambulance when the infant lost consciousness, the alleged abuse would have continued, perhaps for many years, without police or social services ever having an inkling of what was going on.
The Eda Haredit sect of the haredi community in Jerusalem are fanatical about having no contact with the heretical Zionist state; they don't even accept handouts from the state budget. It goes without saying that any wrongdoing of any kind is swept out of sight and dealt with within the circle.
In this case it was the health authorities who notified the police that there was a suspected case of parental violence, but Valis's speedy acceptance of blame didn't prevent his family and other members of the Eda, including Rabbi Yitzhak Weiss, head of its Rabbinical Court, from closing ranks and claiming that the charges were a "blood libel" aimed at besmirching the entire community. The threats of "setting Jerusalem ablaze" if Valis is not released is a stark reminder of the hundreds and perhaps thousands of cases of domestic violence and sexual molestation going on behind closed doors that will never be reported or treated professionally.
Granted, the Eda Haredit is a more isolated sect in the haredi world and other haredi communities are admitting, at least privately, that they have a problem with domestic violence and have begun opening up to professional help - but, even there, it is a slow and often reluctant process. The tendency to "close things up inside" is still very strong and, when it can be done without involving the police or other authorities, that will always be the preferred method.
A representative of one of the most powerful hassidic leaders in the country is currently negotiating a deal with the family of one of the hassidim, who sexually molested at least two of the pupils in a school belonging to the hassidic sect. The deal is expected to include a promise not to go to the police.
Another representative of the same leader was a member of the UTJ negotiating team that yesterday demanded at the coalition talks that, in the next state budget, all money going to fund haredi education be put aboveboard as an official part of the budget. Perhaps if haredi leaders put more effort into bringing to light their communities' hidden problems than they do in publishing their financial demands, they might go some way in preventing the next death.

At 9:41 AM, Blogger aliyah06 said...

I'm not surprised. My husband has spent 20+ years in police work, and I've spent likewise as a prosecutor. Here the claim is that the state is 'framing' an innocent haredi guy for a brutal murder following a history of family brutality perpetrated by him. In my area, the defense is always that the state is framing an innocent 'black man' or 'hispanic man' or 'businessman' or 'whoever-it-is-man/woman' because none of these creeps have ever learned to accept responsiblity for their own behavior. Their antisocial reflexes are carried over from their bullying childhoods, and like children, they cry out that they are blamed unjustly and that someone is out to 'get them' because they have never acknowledged personal responsibility for their behavior.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

ano, thanks for that article. Says a lot of what I already knew and figured, but it's good to see it in writing.

aliyah06, you are absolutely right, and I'm sure you know that if you voiced that logical opinion to some other people they would call you a racist or other dirty words. Some people can't accept the truth. As I say, we can't call ourselves a civilized society if we don't force people to be held accountable for their own actions and NOT give them excuses to blame some-one else or some outside influence. I admire your work. I am working to become a Forensic Psychologist, and I hope to help people like you some day put away people like him.

At 9:39 PM, Blogger Scottage said...

I tend to think of the ultra-orthodox in Israel as more radical than ultra-orthodox around the world, and I believe that has to do, in part, with their involvement in the political arena. As the ultra-orthodox in Israel try to bend and sway public policy, they often loose track of both the meaning and the spirit of the Torah, and lead to a negative perception of what should be a thriving, dynamic community. And this is clearly the case here.

I would hope that no religious community would condone the actions of this monster. I would hope that no religious community would try to defend him or protect him from the justice he so richly deserves. But a political entity has to fight for more than the individual, it has to fight for the cause, and I fear that is what is causing this latest horrible action from the Israeli ultra-orthodox.

There is a reason for the seperation of church and state, and perhaps teh Israeli ultra-orthodox should explore that reason!

At 1:13 AM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

scottage, I totally 100% agree with you. I don't believe that Rabbis or other prominent figures should be in the Knesset. Their corruption is that much more insidious. They have lost site of what they're really supposed to represent; the Torah and the people. Couldn't agree with you more. Thanks.

At 12:52 PM, Blogger westbankmama said...

Uh... as soon as the details became known, the protests were shut down.

From the top - by the sages.

Sorry to burst your swelling bubbles of self-righteous umbrage.

This is just another haredi-baiting post - which, together with the press coverage, only confirms the average haredi person's perception that there most definitely are people out to besmirch them.

The most salient point here is that such incidents are so rare in the haredi world as to be implausible.

But why let the details bother you - we already know who's beneath us...

At 11:26 PM, Blogger Hoods said...

I am practically ill from this post.
You talk about sinat chinum and yet the hatred for your fellow Jew practically oozes from my screen.

You pride yourself on stating facts and yet you somehow report on this story as if you were standing in the room. Were you? How can you be so certain that your version is so accurate.

As with both stories in life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I have been heartsick about this entire situation as there are so many tragic facets.

Both sides are spending so much time mud slinging the innocent child is lost in the haze. I would never presume to say what happened. I'm not naive enough to assume such a thing couldn't be true, but I haven't lost so much faith in my people to hope with all of my heart that the truth isn't as horrible as presented. If it is, how can you so hypocrytically bash ultra-orthodox for their feelings when you perpetuate it right here in the open.

I believe the rioting was wrong, very, and our community leaders have all come out strongly in admonishment.

But to spew out such anti orthodox propaganda (as that is all I can call this post) is shocking.

There are so many more points I want to comment on but as I am at work it will have to wait for another time.

At 11:27 PM, Blogger Hoods said...

On a personal note, we're counting down the days until we're in Israel. Can't wait to see you!!!
It's crazy to think we'll be welcoming an SF baby (B"T) at the same time, crazy no?


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