Orot Banot vs The Kanoim

             Photo Courtesy of Yissachar Ruas

                       (Above Two Photos Courtesy of Michal Stein)

Over a thousand Bet Shemesh residents are reported to have demonstrated outside the building slated for "Orot Banot" National Religious girls' school last night.

The dispute is over the use of the new school building, located in Ramat Neriya, Bet Shemesh, which was built by the Orot Banot's parent organization, Shaalei Torah.

The problems surfaced with objections and threats by other local residents, "Kanoim" (loosely translated as extremists, militants, fundamentalists, whatever...), who live in neighboring buildings designated for Chareidim.

The Bet Shemesh Municipality, under the Shas Party Mayor, Moshe Abutbol, has withdrawn its support for the Orot Banot school, and ordered the school out, apparently in response to the threats of violence against persons and property, and disruption, by these Kanoim. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has publicly sided with Orot Banot, confirming the school's version of events - that the land and building were indeed duly designated to Orot Banot, and that this designation has been summarily and unjustly withdrawn.

The dispute follows similar "turf wars" which have plagued Bet Shemesh for at least the past decade (that I have lived here).

My eldest daughter (now married with a child!) spent her first year at a National Religious primary school in Ramat Bet Shemesh, braving kanoim demonstrators, who gathered every day outside her school. The protesters blew shofarot, shouted slogans, waved banners - and the little girls were terrified. Heh, I found these folks pretty unnerving also...

Eventually, the protesters gave up, or found something else to make a fuss about, and, a few years later, the National Religious school moved up the hill to a larger premises.

Other high profile turf disputes have since included the National Religious schools on Nahal Arugot, the mikva on Nahal Dolev, and now Orot Banot.

Along with regular shabbos protests, segregated buses violence, anti-State demonstrations, anti-autopsy protests, etc..involving stone throwing, trash burning, and even physical violence against non-Kanoim, the image of Bet Shemesh has plummeted, both in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world.

I know this from a Lema'an Achai perspective: when attempting to raise funds abroad, one of the main obstacles is to first address donors concerns (usually "anger")  about the Kanoim in Bet Shemesh.

Bet Shemesh is now indelibly associated with extremist and often violent Kanoim.

The Israeli national media are already putting the spotlight on to this latest dispute, appearing on the Hebrew language radio (I heard it reported on Reshet Bet news headlines last night) and news-sites (YNet, Arutz 7, etc).

In English, there is a report this morning on the Jerusalem Post site

Rafi Goldmeier's Life In Israel blog is giving the dispute extensive coverage.

And, taking a leaf out of the Arab Spring, a "We Are All Orot Banot" Facebook Group has been formed, with around 430 followers so far (when I checked this morning).

Not to be outdone, the Muncipality is using its own facebook page to wage its side of the propaganda war, now raging alongside the protests.

I fully support and encourage everyone to use their influence, time, resources, and protest skills, to make sure that Orot Banot opens, as scheduled, on 1st September, in its new purpose built premises at Ramat Neriya, Bet Shemesh.

If the Kanoim win this dispute, we all lose.


  1. Bet Shemesh is Haredi30 August 2011 at 11:25

    David - with all respect, the Dati Leumi camp in Bet Shemesh is wasting its time and energy.

    The direction of this city is clear.

    You and your chevre should spend your energies looking for somewhere that you and your kids (particularly the girls!) will feel more 'at home'.

    Move on, and move out.

  2. wow nothing like a threat to get us to dig in our heels. See you on the other side.

  3. "Bet Shemesh is Haredi"

    This is NOT a DL vs Haredi issue.

    It is to protect our great town from being ruled by militants.

    If you're reading David's blog, and therefore have internet etc, then you'll also be pushed out of Bet Shemesh by the Kenaim - just a short while after the DL!!

  4. Try titling his comment with "Bet Shemesh is for Whites" and then inserting "the Jews in Bet Shemesh" in place of "dati leumi" and see how that sounds.

    Very ugly, hate filled, giavadik words.

    It is well known that this cult constantly feeds their followers Charedi Supremecy propaganda.

  5. David,

    The mikve on Dolev wasn't "kanoim"..it was led by rabbonim of the Anglo Charedi community of RBSA.

    On second thought..yes they too are kanoim.

    I hope that the community-at-large (and in particular the Dati-Leumi community) realizes that their support of certain institutions helps to further the Charedi agenda in RBSA.

    Just like the Charedim support their own (ie Kupa,Keren Lev Yisroel,Ezrat Achim,the Gra shul, etc) it is high time the DL community threw it's support behind the "less than Charedi" organizations and institutions.

  6. I am very saddened by these events. We are so close to the end of our very long galus and this is how we behave? Have we not learned anything is the past 2000 years? Both sides should be ashamed and try to act like true brothers. MY Rebbi always says that the Jew with the long payos and Streimel has a lot more in common with the guy with a bottle cap kipah then with Christopher in Texas.
    Ladies anf gentelman, it's erev Rosh Hashana.

  7. Be Afraid, Very Afraid1 September 2011 at 20:18


    Unfortunately many in the Charedi world act more like our Arab cousins than our Jewish brothers.

    Forcing their view of the Torah on others and then rioting and protesting to back it up.

    The general populace reacts in the same way as well. They are afraid of the Charedim and generally allow them to behave and "reward" them when they show even the slightest of moderation.


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