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Sunday, May 09, 2021 

Helping the Haredi community requires special gratitude in return

Akiva Bigman explains why, while we may be willing to provide medical aid to the Haredis who suffered from last week's Mount Meron tragedy, we can't support their world view:
It turns out that contrary to what the media depicts, the Israeli public does love the Haredim and considers them an integral part of our society.

On the other hand, while the public is incredibly supportive of the ultra-Orthodox as individuals, the disaster exacerbated alienation from the Haredi worldview even more. The response of sage Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky to the tragedy is just one such example.

The public cannot accept the view that such a heartbreaking tragedy was fated and that the answer is to become more stringent in one's observance.

It is a classic religious response to a tragedy, and there might be a place for it in the discourse. However, compared to efforts to find out who is responsible for the catastrophe that claimed 45 lives or making sure that such a disaster never happens again, the theological "Why did this happen to us?" seems detached, messianic, and outright dangerous.

The Meron disaster raises many questions that dive into the very core of the ultra-Orthodox way of life. The culture of separatism and disregard for the modern State of Israel are just two of the destructive characteristics that describe most aspects of Haredi life.
Kanievsky's insistence that women dress more modestly and everyone study more Torah was both extremely offensive to women on the one hand, and incredibly superficial on the other, given that his call for studying more Torah is unlikely to even remotely emphasize learning from biblical passages that could put special focus on how to maintain safety in dangerous areas. No wonder the Haredi lifestyle is so negligent.

Interestingly enough, as this Yahoo report notes, there are people from Haredi communities who're getting out of the lifestyle:
When Covid-19 hit New York’s close-knit ultra-orthodox Jewish community last year it barrelled through it like a tornado. Rabbis began dying, elders fell seriously sick, and within weeks half the insular population had already been infected.

But the pandemic had a much more unpredictable impact too.

With national lockdowns and school closures the traditional Haredi way of life was interrupted, giving many the space for questioning and self-discovery.

That led some to do the unthinkable: consider leaving and starting a life outside the community.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” said 18-year-old Aryeh, who asked to use a pseudonym as he has not yet left. “But last spring I decided I was definitely going to do it.”
Read more. I'd say this is something good they're doing, as it definitely doesn't help to remain in a community that deprives its subjects of important general information that could help them improve their lives. Let's hope they can make it out, especially women who could have children. And they shouldn't have to worry about leaving the Judaist religion itself. It's just the Haredi lifestyle that's a problem.

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