Residents of small central town fear ultra-Orthodox takeover
Ramot Hashavim resident claims the town has become a 'Bratslav center'; Hasidic resident says her prayer group consists of only 15 people.
By Gili Cohen • Ha’aretz
Some 150 residents of a small town between Hod Hasharon and Ra'anana are waging a battle against a feared Hasidic takeover of Ramot Hashavim.
The organizers of the campaign are planning to meet a week from Wednesday to recruit more supporters.
Talia Behar, who grew up secular in Ramot Hashavim but became a Bratslav Hasid two decades ago, said she did not understand what the uproar was about, since her group consists of only 15 people who pray in a trailer set up as a synagogue.
But several longtime residents said even that is too much, adding that the core group attracts many Hasidim from outside the town.
"The problem is that Ramot Hashavim has become a Bratslav center," one resident said. "They shout 'Shabbes, Shabbes,'" he said, referring to the Yiddish pronunciation of Shabbat, which ultra-Orthodox Jews sometimes shout at anyone they consider to be violating the Sabbath.
Michael Rothschild, who has lived in Ramot Hashavim for more than 30 years, is concerned that once the ultra-Orthodox start moving in, he and the other nonreligious veteran residents will soon feel like outsiders in their own town.
"We're not the first place where this phenomenon is happening," he said. "Everyone knows the story of Yavne'el, the story of Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh. There's no shortage of examples of places where individual Haredim stealing into an area ended up with the place totally changing, and with secular people fleeing. Here too, there are the first signs of the kind of thing from which people flee."
The group behind the campaign against Hasidim in the central Israel town, which calls itself the Action Committee for a Free Ramot Hashavim, has sent out a letter to all residents stating that the Hasidim have set up illegal structures like a yeshiva and the trailer synagogue.
"Some of the community members live in Ramot Hashavim, and many others throng to it from neighboring towns to take part in the religious activity," reads the letter. "Practically all of us are enlightened and pluralistic, and willing to accept the other. Nonetheless, the bitter experience of other towns has shown that if left undisturbed, Haredi infiltration frequently ends with the total takeover of entire neighborhoods or towns, while the non-Haredi population is pushed out."
A court claim has been filed against her father, Eli Yogev, over the trailer synagogue. A judgment is expected in early February.
But even if the synagogue is allowed to remain, Behar and her husband, Itai, may be forced out.
They have already been informed by the landlord of their rented apartment that they are being evicted, even though they say their lease is in effect for another 10 months.
The landlords, Katy and Nissim Moshe, say the decision has nothing to do with the religious affiliation of their tenants and that they want to knock down the property and build a new home for their family.
But the Bratslav Hasidim in the area say they are convinced the Moshes, who have been in town for only two years, were pressured by longtime residents.
"They're evicting us," said Behar. "People are calling on others not to rent to Haredi families."
"Where are we going to go?" she asked.
Here is Yediot Achranot's report:
Posters in Ramat Hashavim: Do Everything Possible Against Haredi Takeover
Eitan Glickman • Yedioth Ahronoth (p. 2)
Translation: Didi Remez • Coteret.com / Special to FailedMessiah.com
In the community of Ramat Hashavim, near Hod Hasharon, a fierce battle is now being waged against ultra-Orthodox families who have moved into the community. Among other things, posters were hung in the community stating that “we have to act by all legal means against a Haredi takeover.”
Members of the “Task Force Against a Haredi Takeover” that was formed in the community, which numbers some 1,500 residents, explained that they were afraid that the ultra-Orthodox families that had recently moved in would turn the community into a Haredi community for all intents and purposes. “They have built a synagogue and a study center, they even have a religious girls’ school, and our great fear is that there will be a major Haredi takeover,” one of the task force members said yesterday.
In the coming week, an emergency gathering will be convened, in which the members of the new task force will discuss their next steps. “People in the community are definitely concerned, and some people are leading a battle against the Haredi takeover,” said Gonen Yashar, a resident of Ramat Hashavim. As part of the escalating battle, a protest demonstration is being planned soon, which is being organized by the task force chairman, Uriel Friedman, under the heading “Free Ramat Hashavim.”
Friedman said yesterday, “the growing Haredi presence in our community bothers many residents. We have no intention of harming anyone. Everything will be done legally. The goal is to close down activities that are being done in the community in illegal places, and the members of the task force, along with members of the local committee, will discuss with the residents the legal courses of action that stand at our disposal in order to prevent the continued Haredi takeover.”