The following article was writen by Daniel S., Sam M. and Carmelle B. on behalf of the Upper School Israel Club.
I never meant any harm. All I ever wanted was to go to school. Yet, on the way to my all-girls school in Beit Shemesh, I have been spat at, and called terrible names by Haredi men. It is hard for me to understand why these men become so upset over the clothes I wear. I attend an orthodox school, and therefore abide by the dress code, stressing modestly. The verbal attacks have increased in number over the past few weeks, making me frightened of even walking to school. Sometimes, I am frustrated to see that fellow Jews treat other Jews this way. We all believe in the same God, the same morals, and the same values. With such malevolence towards one another, we will never be a unified Jewish nation. It is my dream that one day I, along with other Jews of all degrees of religiousness will be able to live with mutual respect, in this amazing country that we call home.
This story of Naama Margolise, an eight-year-old Orthodox girl who was attacked by right-wing extremists on her way to school in Beit Shemesh, struck our Israel Club as a disturbing example of disunity and extremism in our Jewish homeland. The students in our school have a strong personal connection to Israel and travel there in both freshman and senior years. We feel that it is incredibly important for Israel to be a stable and thriving country – “a light unto other nations.”
As a school that emphasizes values of Pluralism and Zionism, we feel it is extremely important to denounce the recent slew of attacks. While the Haredim are only a minority, (they make up only 10% of Israel’s population), recent history teaches us that the power of a violent minority should not be underestimated. The Arab Spring uprisings began as a small group of youth making their voice heard through the use of social networking. If the necessary steps are not taken to quell such acts of injustice towards women and other, less-observant Jews, the situation may escalate to become more violent and politically involved. This is why it is our job as Jewish leaders in our community to stand up for what Israel really is, a democratic homeland for Jews to live in coexistence, regardless of religiousness or gender.