Briefly, the non-hasidic haredim led by Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv have banned concerts and other outdoor public gatherings meant to be enjoyable (as opposed to long "Torah" gatherings meant to bore participants forced to endure long speeches by often elderly rabbis).
The haredim expended the ban this year to the yearly outdoor Sukkot water-drawing festivities held across Israel. Why? Because of "lewdness" – if the events are held outdoors, men and women may find ways to mix and, well, you know where that could lead. The ban is so strong that the city of Bnei Brak canceled its water-drawing celebration.
But there is a crack in the ban, Chabad has water-drawing celebrations scheduled for its neighborhoods and has refused to comply with the ban. Ha'aretz reports:
A spokesman for Tzeirei Chabad, the Chabad youth organization, told Haaretz "We are not opposing the rabbis and are not holding any shows. We have brought to the attention of the Torah sages that for us this is not just a street event, but one that has gone on for years and has value. There is value in holding the events in public. It is not just for the ultra-Orthodox public, but for the wider public, and men and women will remain separate."
Ha'aretz also reports that Neturei Karta, of all people, are planning to hold a demonstration of protest against Chabad's decision at the Jerusalem water-drawing celebration.
Chabad's celebration will probably get out of hand. Every haredi looking for a good time and willing to violate the ban will be there. So will secular Israelis, Western university students studying in Israel and yeshiva/seminary students on one year Israel programs.
What would have been a normal if somewhat loose event may turn into a giant clash between Chabad leaders trying desperately to keep a lid on things and revelers looking for a good time. And, this being Chabad, the Vodka will be flowing.
I suspect in the end haredi leaders will have much to criticize and much about which to say I told you so. That haredi over reaction contributed strongly to this situation is a fact haredi leaders will never admit or understand.