Myriads Expected at Hareidi Protest

Tens of thousands of hareidi-religious are expected to accompany 68 parents from Emanuel to jail in a protest against irreligious coercion.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 09:08

Injured Jew at protest
Injured Jew at protest
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Tens of thousands of policemen are on hand in Jerusalem to counter what could be twice that amount of hareidi-religious protestors in what has been called the “mother of all protests.” The hareidi-religious are expected to accompany 68 parents from Emanuel to jail in a mass protest against irreligious coercion.

The protest is called for 1:30 PM at Yirmiyahu St. near the large hareidi neighborhoods, and is scheduled to last about four It is feared that it will begin even earlier in other areas of the city, however. Lending the protest an air of urgency, leading Torah giants such as Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyahshiv, age 100, and Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky of Bnei Brak have said they will take part. In addition, the rabbis have taken the unusual step of calling on all yeshiva and kollel students to take a break from their Torah studies and join the protest.

The issue is the Supreme Court ruling that forces Hassidic parents in the Shomron town of Emanuel to send their daughters to a school that they believe does not meet their religious standards. The Court, however, adjudicated the issue based on ethnic lines, accepting the position of the plaintiffs who claimed that the current school discriminates against Sephardic families.

The defendants say in their defense that among their number, roughly a quarter are Sephardic.

The 68 parents who refuse to send their daughters to the designated school are to be taken to jail today – an unprecedented move in itself. They have said that they will gladly go to jail rather than compromise their religious principles. In accordance with a ruling by their rabbi, the Slonimer Rebbe, they will wear festive Sabbath clothes and will be escorted to jail in song and dance by the myriads of protestors.

In court, the parents cried out the Shma Yisrael prayer, and sang “Zion, will you not care for your prisoners?” and “Make your plans, but they will not come to fruition, for ‘Emanu-e-l’ [G-d is with us].’”

It appears that a statement by the one religious Supreme Court justice – Edmond Levy, the only judge to rule against the removal of government stipends to Kollel students this week – is what set the religious world on fire. Regarding the declared refusal of the parents to follow the Court’s ruling and to follow their rabbis instead, Levy said, “It cannot be that rabbis’ rulings will take precedence over the Supreme Court.” Today’s mass protest is essentially saying, “Oh yes they can!”

Based on recent hareidi protests, violence is expected, though rabbis and other leaders have called on the public to show restraint. The police, for their part, have said that they will act to quickly quell any disturbances - an ominous threat in the eyes of the protestors.

The hareidi public has felt itself under the gun recently regarding the desecration of graves in Jaffa, the removal of bones in Ashkelon, the removal of the Kollel stipends, unwanted autopsies in Jerusalem, anti-hareidi statements made by public leaders, and more.

The original court suit was initiated by a veteran resident of the city, who had various claims against the relatively newly arrived Slonim Hassidic community – including what he felt was ethnic discrimination, despite the presence of Sephardic families in the Hassidic school. Notably, teaders of the hareidi-Sephardic Shas party have come out against the Court ruling, though they did not call on their supporters to join the protest.