Back in September, I wrote a post about the situation here in Beit Shemesh. I wrote mainly out of frustration with my new hometown, and because mothers were bringing politics to the park. I responded to a conversation held in front of children on this blog, although looking back maybe I should have kept my personal ideas as locked in as I did when confronted with the angry shouts and accusations against Chareidim, while sweet Chareidi boys played less than two feet away.
I heard some things that day that made me cringe. Later on, I read worse thoughts on a Facebook group I wanted to join. The group was formed to show support for the girls and parents of the school, something I felt was a positive, wonderful thing to be a part of. Except, comments such as “a dead Chareidi is a good Chareidi” and “let’s project scenes from Baywatch on their buildings” made me feel so disgusted and embarrassed that my opinion changed. My disgust and frustration flew from my fingertips, becoming, as usual, a blog post.
Life in Israel was hosting thoughts on the Orot Banot saga and welcomed guest posters. I submitted my post, hoping that it would reach a wider readership, particularly the mothers who shared the park benches with me and who were part of a community I thought I wanted to join.
Then I received a panicked phone call from my friend. She begged me to come to be at her side as her sister lay dying. I rushed out the door with an apple and my computer, thinking I would spend some time writing and possibly provide my friend with a distraction.
The intensity of that day ripped me apart and I completely forgot about my life or the lives of anyone living in the war-zone that is Beit Shemesh.
It was long past midnight and an angel’s life was drawing to a close. I sat in the waiting room, taking a break from the pillar of strength I had morphed into. I wanted to check back into reality. I needed to connect with the real world, where people took deep breathes, related to each other, and didn’t have to say goodbye to their daughter, sister, and friend.
I checked in with the blogosphere and noticed that people had commented on my post. I was excited and curious to see what sort of response I had generated.
My hands were shaking as I read comment after comment of what felt to be people telling me I’m stupid and invalidating my opinion. My words were picked apart and harshly criticized. Although most of the article was my ranting thoughts, the point that I wanted to give over was summed up in the last paragraph.
“Let’s protect all the children. Maybe we should start by leaving this sort of discussion outside the park. I moved here so that my children could be raised in an environment of tolerance and acceptance. That my children could be accepted and so that they could accept others is dependent on what they hear at home, in school and in the park.”
No one managed to hear that part. They just went on about me and my ‘groundless’ opinion.
I closed my computer, refusing to respond, walked into a hospital room and watched a young girl die.
In my soul, I lost a little bit of faith in humanity.
In my heart, I lost respect for both sides of the story.
In my mind, I made a promise not to care.
I live in a home full of warmth, love, and tolerance.
And I do not go to the park.
6 thoughts on “Why Beit Shemesh Means Nothing To Me”
wow that is so moving. Thanks so much for posting such an interesting and emotional article. I totally feel where ur coming from. The park is for parks and the school for schools. Respect the truth and the truth will respect you.
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right….
so true. I’ve given up trying to explain to the other side what Chareidim are all about. They don’t care and only see their point of view and reject anyone else’s. How does that make THEM any different then the “Chareidim” in beit shemesh? (chareidim in parenthesis b/c that has been the term used…but it is not accurate). Love your writing style and message!
I shake with the same rage and the same problem of ranting at both sides. It’s a very empty feeling. You said it beautifully. And I am so sorry for your friend’s loss.
I wholeheartedly agree with your position. They are being irrational. Irrational people are incapable of rational thought. What I object to is that somehow a conclave of nutcases is now the fault of the entire Jewish people.
I think constantly talking about the situation is giving them what they want: attention. Stating the obvious that these guys are being disgusting doesn’t get us anywhere.
They are also cowards, for they pick on those who cannot fight back. So that becomes a matter for the police. The police should do their job, which is to protect the helpless.
I have a very simple solution. All the fathers and husbands and brothers of the harassed women confront these men, as say very politely, “You have a problem with my daughter, my wife, my sister? Then say it to me.” They can carry a baseball bat if they like.
Why are we throwing words at a situation that is beyond words?
I salute you!