Protest: Ramat Bet Shemesh expands, the environment pays the price.

Apparently, this is the next big developmental overstepping/environmental boundary  issue in our corner of Matte Yehuda… This time featuring the ever-glamorous Ramat Bet Shemesh expansion.

If you haven’t heard, Ramat Bet Shemesh Gimmel is a controversial funhouse and construction is already well underway. The projects are promising to expand even further (D and E!) and cut into a lot more of the nature areas around the city into Matte Yehuda.

Here’s a quickly translated English version of the email we received as local residents. The original Hebrew is below. If you’re interested in getting involved, the time and location details for the first meeting are included.

Join the fight: For the environment, the community, the heritage of Israel and future generations

Plans for expansion of Ramat Beit Shemesh advanced rapidly and already started construction in Ramat Beit Shemesh Gimmel, and other parts of this neighborhood are expected to get final approval processes in the near future. The next expected approval processes and construction of neighborhoods D and E, where Highway 375 reaches the east, the slopes of Ella Valley in the south and Moshav Zacariah in the west and an access road to bridge it all across the Ella Valley.

This includes areas of nature reserves and the valley’s northern side includes historical sites favored by the general public and future generations. It’s also a matter of damage to the nature surrounding.

Residents of Matte Yehuda, Beit Shemesh and the environment are invited to meet the organizers of the campaign. The discussion will take place on Monday, December 10, at 19:00 in the tourist area of Kibbutz Halamed Hey (turn left at the gate, follow signs).

מצטרפים למאבק
למען הסביבה, הקהילה, מורשת ישראל והדורות הבאים

התוכניות להרחבה של רמת בית שמש מתקדמות בקצב מואץ וכבר
כעת החלה בניה בשכונת רמת בית שמש ג, חלקים נוספים משכונה זו צפויים להיכנס להליכי אישור סופי בזמן הקרוב ובשנים הקרובות צפויים תהליכי אישור ובניה על שכונות ד’ וה’ שתגענה עד לכביש 375 ממזרח, מורדות עמק האלה בדרום ומושב זכריה ממערב וכן כביש גישה שיבנה לרוחב עמק האלה. בימים אלה החל להתגבש מטה מאבק לצמצום תכניות הבניה, והקמת גן לאומי על רכס הגבעות הצפוני של עמק האלה כולל האתרים ההיסטוריים המצויים בו לטובת כלל הציבור והדורות הבאים ולמניעת פגיעה בתוכניות הפיתוח של המרחב כולו

תושבי מטה יהודה, בית שמש והסביבה מוזמנים למפגש הקמת מטה המאבק הדיון יתקיים ביום ב’ ה 10 בדצמבר,בשעה 19:00 ב מתחם התיירות קיבוץ הל”ה – פניה שמאלה לפני השער – שילוט יוצב במקום

מטרות הדיון
הצגת שיטת הפעילות
דיון בערכי המאבק והאני מאמין של המאבק
תחילת הקמת קבוצות עבודה :נא לאשר השתתפות אצל דלית ולמן, בדוא”ל

למען הסביבה, הקהילה, מורשת ישראל והדורות הבאים

Sunday drivers: Taking it slow for freedom in Tzur Hadassah.

And now, in local news: The continuation of the housing/construction war that’s being waged in and around Tsur Hadassah.

The Makbat is planned high density housing towers that have permission to be built across the street from Tzur Hadassah near the Delek station and are planned to be part of Tzur Hadassah, not part of Mevo Beitar. They have permission to build 900 units – small apartments, high density. Tzur Hadassah has been fighting this for 17 years and will continue. Yair Kamaiski is the person who leads this, with the backing of the va’ad of the town. The next court hearing, at which citizens are encouraged to show up, is February 2.

Below is the official notice with Q&A about the issues and the protest scheduled for this Sunday, January 15, at 7:15am. Basically, show up with your car between Tzur Hadassah and the tunnels towards Jerusalem and join the slow-moving traffic blob of Sunday drivers  in order to prove the kind of heavy-density traffic that will become every day routine if thousands more people join this area without infrastructure changes. Folks from Gush Etzion are also invited, as they will be affected by the changes in traffic patterns too.

Also, see the organizers’ Facebook page [Hebrew].

Exceptional Jew vs Jew hatred, brought to you this time by Charedi protesters.

This is an incredible low. Something I didn’t expect. It only helps a little that I know for a fact, from personal relationships, that sane, rational, open, and loving charedim do exist in Israel and beyond.

However, this – this is unforgivable.

The chilul Hashem, the national insult, the Jew vs Jew hatred that has come to this before dialogue or attempts to fix it without corruption, politics, leadership silence.

Ultra Orthodox protest ‘incitement’ and ‘hatred’

Approximately 1,500 ultra-Orthodox men gathered at Shabbat Square in the capital’s Geula neighborhood on Saturday night to protest what they called the “oppression” and “incitement” of the “secular community” against them.

Dozens of men wore yellow Stars of David on their jackets with the word “Jude” in the center, and banners bearing slogans such as “Zionists are not Jews” and “Zionism is racism” were paraded at the rally.

Orthodox Jews demand the presence of international forces to protect them,” another sign read.

“What’s happening is exactly like what happened in Germany,” said one man wearing a yellow star, who gave his name only as Moishe. “It started with incitement and continued to different types of oppression. Is it insulting that we wear these stars? Absolutely, and it hurts people to see this, but this is how we feel at the moment, we feel we are being prevented from observing the Torah in the manner in which we wish.

It’s so disgusting, I don’t even want to redisplay the images here, but in case you’re too lazy or too biased or too ignorant to click, here’s a teaser that should get you in the know:

What we need as a country and Jewish society, right NOW, is a national dialogue, for leaders to set their pride and balls aside and have a freakin conversation. No one is understanding, or trying to understand anyone here. Tisha B’Av was only a few months ago – let alone Yom Kippur – and it seems anything related to ‘Adam l’chavero’ is completely neglected.

It’s sickening to see what this ‘secular’ ‘charedi’ divide – or perceived civil war – is coming to. Is it not possible for us all to have what we absolutely need? Maybe because I straddle the religious/secular divide, it’s just a little clearer than for extremists on either side?

And as long as our Palestinian ‘friends’ stay quiet, this is just going to get worse and worse.

Beit Shemesh, united against extremists.

The protest in Beit Shemesh was impressive. We really did have all kinds of people – people with dreads, people with payot, women with head coverings, women with leggings, kids with their parents, charedi guys willing to speak to the news cameras, women holding pamphlets, men holding signs thanking god for making them women.

I do have to say, it was disappointing that, while there were many dynamic male speakers – charedi and non – there were no females on stage except for Na’ama’s mother, who gave a great 2-minute thank you to the crowd. If there were female politicians in the crowd, why didn’t they speak?

Anyway, it was a good kickoff to what I hope becomes a bigger movement for awareness, togetherness and change in our Israeli society and even our Jewish religion. Both entities of our people suffer from misunderstanding and mis-prioritization.

Here’s a bit of what I saw (scroll over photos for captions/translations):

Until next time, reporting live…


Protesting violence and extremism in Beit Shemesh.

The House of Sun has been pretty dark lately. And by pretty dark, I mean as dark as a ten-layer burqa on a Jewish woman.

I  haven’t written about it here, but you can learn more about the abuse of 8-year-old dati leumi Na’ama Margolies, signs ordering women how to modestly walk the streets, and the  whole drama that erupted because of the Orot Banot elementary school that opened in Ramat Beit Shemesh this year.

Well, tonight is the public, national beginning/culmination of the Jew vs Jew misfortune in Beit Shemesh with an expected 10,000-person protest outside the girls’ school. People from all across the country, from all stripes, are expected to join together against the violence and extremism that has grown from the extreme Haredi sector here.

I think this is messy. Jew vs Jew is  bound to be. But even within the protesting camp, where there will inevitably be plenty of Beit Shemesh haredim opposed to the extremism (finally) – will the secular folks from out of town get that? Will they assume they are the evil ones? Will they begin to see the difference between dati leumi, haredi lite and haredi? Are secular people from across Israel prepared to learn that there are plenty of peaceful, respectful haredim out there? Among us? That they are related to us, married to our family members, that they hold jobs AND learn Torah, that they want to live and let live?

The protest is scheduled for 6pm on Sderot Herzog, Beit Shemesh.

Priorities, people.

I was passed an article about a Charedi wedding that took place after being protested by the bride’s parents and the “most prominent Orthodox rabbis.” The daughter of multimillionaires was sent to Israel to seminary and fell in love with a Charedi “yeshiva dropout.” They managed to get married yesterday after getting through protests from all sides (even picketers at the wedding).

I will defer my own original wording and frustration to the talkback of this article I just read, and it’s not about the actual story.

First, excerpts of the article reflecting the prominent Orthodox rabbis’ actions, then the talkback:

West Side Story, Meah Shearim style

The bride’s parents objected, rabbis protested and the public took to the streets – but the young couple refused to give up. Against all odds and despite violent demonstrations outside the wedding hall, a young ultra-Orthodox woman from overseas and her Jerusalemite fiancé were married in the capital Tuesday evening…

The family also appealed to the most prominent Orthodox rabbis, asking that they exert efforts in a bid to cancel the planned wedding. The rabbis even issued a manifest against the engagement, but to no avail…

At the beginning of the week, the family discovered that the wedding would take place Tuesday evening. Claiming that the young man’s family had exploited wealthy families  in the past, the woman’s family managed to convince prominent rabbis to issue another manifest against the wedding…

Leaflets slamming the marriage were hung in haredi neighborhoods, carrying the signatures of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, Rabbi Nissim Karelitz and Rabbi Michal Yehuda Levkovitch…”Who can tolerate such a marriage with such great sorrow on the part of the daughter’s mother and father? It is a defamation of God to marry a person from the street considered problematic like the groom.”

Addressing the groom’s father, the rabbis wrote, “After hearing from important scholars that your son is about to marry a girl as opposed to the Torah’s wishes, we demand that you prevent this marriage which will not be held according to our dedicated Jewish law… (ynet)

For the whole story, definitely click and enjoy. It gets more ridiculous by the paragraph.

However, my focus in this story is the following… Thank you, שרה, for highlighting this in your talkback, which everyone else seems to be missing:

Does anyone else find it totally disturbing that all the rabbis come out of the woodwork to speak out against this marriage but none of them are speaking out against the horrible stories of child abuse we’ve been seeing in this country lately!? They’re busy protecting this young woman from a marriage to another religious Jew when down the road, there are mothers/monsters in prison for beating their children…and the rabbis haven’t banded together to say anything about that?!

*Nudge* The kidnapped soldiers have not been returned.

It’s a year and a half later, and the three kidnapped soldiers from summer 2006 – Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit have not been returned to us.

The Keren Maor Foundation was founded to assist and support the families of these three soldiers, and to raise awareness until they are brought home from their current Hezbollah and Hamas prisons.

They have declared January 2nd to be a day dedicated to reminding Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that it is the government’s responsibility to bring back our captured brothers. In the letter below, the foundation asks citizens of Israel to send emails/letters/faxes on that date.

Kaplan 3, Jerusalem 91919


If you’d like to contact the organization, be in touch with Ilan Specter, 0524714025 or The foundation accepts donations here.

Protest for the Kidnapped Soldiers

Brothers, sons, teachers, students.

Not quite street art, but temporarily tonight Keren HaYessod street was painted with the anger and frustration of local teachers:

Teacher Protest Jerusalem

The sign reads: “Brother, brother! Your son is my student!”

Sometimes, this country seems like one big block party where literally everyone is separated by a few degrees. In this case, the holders of the sign make an excellent point, bringing the strikes home for the members of the National Labor Court, which is where they were stationed tonight. The same teachers who are striking are the professionals who are currently not in classes teaching your children… Bridging the gap between lawmakers and underpaid professionals.