Battle of the beards: ultra-Orthodox sects clash in Israel over rowdy youths

Battle of the beards: ultra-Orthodox sects clash in Israel over rowdy youths January 5, 2010


AN all-out brawl between two factions of ultra-Orthodox (haredi) Jews broke out at the weekend in Israel.
According to this report, hundreds of Haredim were embroiled in an affray that broke out in Ashdod’s Zayin quarter after member of Belz and Ger Hassidic sects claimed that rowdy yeshiva (religious college) dropouts were behaving badly in the neighborhood. Four people were arrested.

Some 500 members of the Ashkenazi and Sephardic sects clashed on Saturday night after the Ashkenazim claimed that Sephardic youths were wandering the streets on the sabbath in a manner “unbefitting of the haredi population living in the neighborhood”.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual head of Israel's Shas Party, left, is a prominent Sephardic Jew. On the right are two Ashkenazi Jews.
According to neighborhood residents, pamphlets were distributed in a synagogue on Saturday calling on haredim to protest against the youths’ unruly behaviour.
Danielle Moyal, a Sephardic resident of the neighborhood, said.

They planned on making provocations ahead of time, to rile things up and cause the police to come, so they would ultimately attack us. It is simply horrifying what is happening here. There are Ashkenazi haredi groups here who are trying to hurt us and our children in any possible way. They are violent, and they are supported by their leaders.

She added  that hundreds of haredim took to the streets, along with many curious bystanders.

They shouted and approached young boys sitting there. One of them shoved my 11-year-old daughter and kicked her. Usually, in previous clashes, they would get swallowed into the masses, but this time we managed to photograph one of them. We went to the police and filed a complaint. We expect the police to take action against their leaders because they incite this whole phenomenon.

One member of the Ashkenazi group explained the protest:

Much to our chagrin, there are many young Sephardic boys in the neighborhood who dropped out of the yeshiva and have become rebellious. They harass our daughters as they pass through the streets. Some of them also smoke on Shabbat in the neighborhood, and are not fit to live here. Denomination-based tension has been created because of them since they behave inappropriately. They idly sit in the streets.


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