ROSA PARKS A JEW?

ROSA PARKS A JEW?

 

Was Rosa Parks Jewish? Let’s get real. Of course not.

 

But her heroic refusal to give up a seat on a Birmingham, Alabama bus and her rejection of white segregationists still rings out in Israel. You’d think the ultra-Orthodox boys on the back streets of Jerusalem would have heard the music.

They didn’t.

In December, the boys with curls hanging down to their chins tried to force a secular young Jewish woman coming home from work on a Jerusalem public bus to sit in the back. She told them to hang it on their noses. The war was on.

More properly called the haredim, the ultra-orthodox Jewish men thumb their nose at equal rights for all. These most “religious of the religious” believe women exist in a perpetual “come-on” state of being. Never mind, that these holy Joes have missed the fact that the problem of temptation is “in the eye of the beholder.”

Here’s an example.

In Beit Shemesh, a blonde 2nd grade girl’s regular school appearance didn’t reach the proper measuring stick length. The boys in black and white descended on the child spitting and calling her a prostitute. Does it strike you that calling a 2nd grader a prostitute might be a tad extreme? And spitting? It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to figure out which label you paste on these holy Joes.

Jews in America have already gone around this barn way too many times. In early January, the congregation of Beth El in northern New Jersey got another trip when a fire bomb was hurled through the Rabbi Nosson Schuman’s window, sending him and the family into the street. Up the road in Paramus, New Jersey, Congregation K’Hai Adath got the same bonfire treatment. The fire burned itself out; the worry didn’t.

What gives?

Periodically, I walk through Mea Shearim, the ultra-Orthodox quarter of Jerusalem. With my yarmulka firmly planted on my head, I remember that men walking with women is forbidden here. Oh pooh! Even walking with my elderly grandmother might get me in trouble. (Or her!)  Some of these folk would have carried Rosa Parks bodily to the back of the bus.

Women are considered perpetually seductive … oh yes, and inferior. Barbara Friedman will find that interesting. So, we find two different problems that are strangely similar. Prejudicial fire bombs in New Jersey; Prejudicial treatment of women and girls in Israel.

You ask again, what gives?

Though different in kind from the Haredi, far-right wing extremist made attacks in mid-December near Ramat Gilad. They slaughtered a holy cow in a most unkosher manner. (Holy cow, indeed!). Hit by a thrown rock, a Lt. Colonel felt the worst insult was being called a Nazi only a month after his grandmother died who had survived the Shoah. (Holocaust)

What gives is that gentiles must not let the nonsense reflect on Israel’s character. A small number of extremists don’t color the nation’s character anymore than nut cases playing with matches represent New Jersey. And here’s a sad footnote. Prof. Menachem Friedman, an expert on Jewish cults explains that the extremists are a reaction to the Shoah. Because they missed it, they feel they must take some public and extreme action to validate their Jewishness. Okay. But how about leaving 2nd grade children and hard working woman alone.

The vast majority of Israelis agree. They are now shouting, “Stop the nonsense!” Sounds good to me. That’s Israel at its best.

Can we allow people with divergent beliefs to force their opinions down our throat? Should Israel throw open its doors to the practices of the ultra-Orthodox even when they cause some people to stumble?

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