Dear Extremist Haredi Zealot Neighbors,
Hello. It’s been a true pleasure making your acquaintance during the last few days outside the Orot (Hebrew: Lights) Girls’ School in my hometown of Bet Shemesh, a sleepy backwater which was frankly really nice until you got here.
Let’s tell the uninitiated reader about our little quarrel: You feel the land / building allotted to Orot is yours and have invoked your Magical Modesty Clause to (successfully) silence the Haredi street; the Education Ministry and the incredible parent leadership who built the school feel otherwise, supported by the normative citizens of Bet Shemesh who are kinda sick of your Grabby McGrabberson tendencies; and our mostly Haredi municipal leadership, led by Mayor Moshe Abutbol, as usual prefers (when confronted with offending you with femininity and other scary things) to stay quasi-neutral – by which I mean completely chickens**t. (Is that the kind you threw on us, by the way, at the rally?)
The experience of protesting alongside you has been super, though, since, really – where else would we have met? Unfortunately, I don’t really have that many friends from other religions, so it has been nice to expand my horizons. It is amazing that in your religion, all of the Torah that matters really *can* be learned on one foot, as long as that foot is covered by a stocking.
The elegance of being able to collapse your entire world into a single concept – Spread Thy Ignorance, Erase Thine Women from Everywhere but the Delivery Room, and Call it Superior – is just a little awe-inspiring in its total simplicity and apparent appeal to testosterone-based life-forms in tights (and turbans…..) Together with the all-black ensemble and the ability to travel light at a moment’s notice to whatever cause-du-jour you are called to, I daresay, you guys are pretty fabulous.
Although, it would be great if you would stop calling little 8-year-old girls nasty things as they walk home from school. It is not their fault that they were born outside the cage in which you have entrapped your own women and girls. It is time to stop punishing them for it. It’s really enough that you have tanked our real estate. (Thanks, for that, by the way.)
Those bits of tension aside, I’d love to get to know you better. I’ll start by sharing a little bit about ourselves, but since I know you are really busy not working and not learning, I’ll make it quick and reduce this “meeting” (is it too soon to call it a date?) to only one cool fact about our community:
We care about peace and quiet, are known to obsess about quality of life, are very busy with *jobs* (definitions can be found in the Talmud) and community work and army reserve duty and our own continuing (dual-curricular) education, BUT, like most parents, we are never too busy to protect and nurture our kids, in body and in spirit. Kids, male and female.
Listen to this again: We care deeply about the education, personal development, happiness, safety, success, and future of our boys, and of our girls. We expect our girls to become productive, active, educated, helpful members of the broader community, and we invest in them heavily. Even those of us, like me, without daughters of our own. These girls will be raising my grandchildren one day, and that means they’d better be really smart and headstrong; I also hope they know how to find small objects that get wedged into the couch, which chromosomally challenged people (xy) swear have dissipated into space. But I digress.
You said in several news outlets that you would carry on this fight for 20 years. In twenty years, notwithstanding your backward efforts, the first graders that you’ve been harassing will have more education, world experience, some even military experience, and certainly more vitality and promise, than any of the lot of you highly superior grown men, scions of the true something?….I dunno, I lost you at hello.
Because we believe in our girls and the women they will become, the mothers and Torah scholars and doctors and teachers and lawyers (…here’s her card for when you get indicted re: above threat…) we will stand up for their right to a great future. We sincerely hope that more of your moderate Haredi neighbors, with whom we differ on many things but can successfully share a national space, will begin to see that they will need to choose a side here, as painful a step as that may be.
In any event, my Zealot Shmoopie, I’m not sure you understood all this about us before you started this little dance of ours. But it’s been real. See you around. But hopefully (Seinfeld fans? Care to join me?) not around me.
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