Rosh Yeshivot for year-programs in Jerusalem, shalom.
This past weekend The Jerusalem Post published an article called “Violent Nights”, discussing the troubled behavior of American/Anglo yeshiva students as loud, rowdy, and worse – violent – within Jerusalem nightlife.
As an American, an Israeli, a Jew and a citizen of organized society, I am embarrassed and disgusted by the behavior I witness on Thursday and Saturday nights downtown by (mainly) American boys donning kippot and usually openly displaying tzizit. Verbal taunts and fights – whether geared toward their peers or native Israelis – make it hard to justify their studying in Israel for their gap years. Perhaps remaining in Brooklyn, etc., could have contributed as much, if not more, spirituality for some of these students.
In short, the חילול ה’ that I witness and have to explain apologetically to my native Israeli friends is extremely painful.
It is also unfortunate that we American olim have to pay the price for the behavior of visiting yeshiva students. Our reputation is such that until proven otherwise, we are judged as rowdy, obnoxious and careless as soon as we part our American-accented lips.
I know this is not a problem with every year-program yeshiva student – or even most of them. My brother and many of his friends, who I grew up with, study here for the year in Jerusalem yeshivot and exemplify good, calm, respectful students and temporary abiding-citizens. However, even if it is only the fringe of students, it is no less revolting to my peers and me.
It is important to teach these visitors (and perhaps their parents) that Israel is not only a vacation spot for these young tourists or a place to send unmanageable kids with behavior problems.
I moved here because Israel is the place for Jews who want to be halachic and law abiding citizens of the only place in the world we can be sure to make a significant difference in society. Israel is a real place where people live, work and raise children, and not just a pity-case for Anglo communities or gap year destination.
Even if yeshivot administrators are making some effort to control this behavior, nonetheless, it has been occurring and is still a disturbing issue, as the Jerusalem Post has finally publicized.
I hope that hearing this from a real, live, tax-paying citizen will help move along the solution – a serious lesson and guidance in living out דרך ארץ.
Thank you for your time.