Why Beit Shemesh Means Nothing To Me

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.

Orot Banot

Well, it’s reached me.  I tried to keep quiet about it, tried to watch from a distance, but it’s all the rage at the park these days and lord knows I ain’t one to let a good point go unheard.

Orot Banot – by now the best-known school in Beit Shemesh – has made its mark on little old me, who never heard of it and still doesn’t know where it is.

Some self-hating Jews found it and seem to hate it.  Loudly and obnoxiously, they’ve let their point be heard and now I have to respond.

But not to people who can’t hear.  I have no nothing to say to, or about, a group of people hell-bent on bitter fighting.  I have nothing to say to people who terrorize children and swarm the streets, dispensing their twisted views oh too freely.

The truth is, there is nothing anyone can say to them, or about them, that they haven’t already said.  This is a group of people who have been around for years.  Discussions were held, points were made, voices were lost in the intensity of the disagreements………..and no progress was made.

So stop expecting people who don’t agree with them, don’t want to be associated with them, and do not want to engage them in any form of conversation to speak up about them.

I will spell it out because talking in tongues never seems to give the right impressions.  The Dati Leumi community is asking the Chareidi community to condemn the actions of a mixed group of people in the same league as the wackos who shake hands with our enemies.

Now tell me, is that necessary?  Do you really need the Chareidim to state the obvious?  Or do you have such a horrible opinion of Chareidim that you don’t trust that they’ve come to the same logical conclusions about people who are certifiably insane?

Let me tell you something about Chareidim.  I am not Chareidi.  I am actually anti a lot of their hashkafos and have deliberately chosen not to live amongst them because of those hashkafos.  I only know that I do not want to be Chareidi because I tried to be Chareidi once.  And so I can say without a doubt that there is nothing Chareidi about this.  The Chareidim should not break their teeth reiterating that they don’t agree with this.  They should not put themselves in a position to defend the Chareidi world, because any sane person should be able to deduce that a small group of men shouting pathetically outside an elementary school for girls is not a proper representation of the Chareidi world.

There is nothing to say to a group of people that make their own rules, as there is no one who can make a difference with any sort of proclamation.

The girls need to be protected because there are people who are dangerous outside their school.  Do what needs to be done.  Put them first.  Try to get this to be over using the tools available.  Don’t make this into a civil war.

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 that they could accept others, is dependent on what they hear at home, in school, and in the park.