Graffiti against violence in Me'ah She'arim
Graffiti against violence in Me'ah She'arim Israel news photo: Flash 90

The rabbis of the Haredi Badatz – the High Court of Justice of the Eida Haredit community – published an unusual and strongly worded denouncement of the internecine violence that has been plaguing the community in recent months.

The violence has been ascribed to Gur (Gerrer) hassidim, some of whom said it was a response to severe provocations by members of a violent group called the sikrikim. The conflict is connected to a turf war over the "Batei Warsaw" neighborhood.

In official posters ("pashkvils") pasted on the bulletin boards and walls of the Me'ah She'arim neighborhood, the Badatz referred to an incident in which a man named Avraham Hirschman was severely beaten, and to another attack, in which a man named Shalom Roset was beaten inside a synagogue. 

"We heard with fear of several incidents of beatings – to the point of pulverization -- and damage to Jewish property and capital," the rabbis wrote. The violent incidents "have reached the point of desecrating synagogues. Woe to the ears that hear this, that such a thing can be done in Israel and no voice be raised in protest."

"Anyone complicit in their acts will not be cleansed of this in the next [world]," they summed up, in a pashkvil signed by the Badatz Head, Rav Yitzchak Tuvia Weiss.

Arutz Sheva reported several days ago that Gur hassidim who met Rav Weiss in the hope that he would denounce the sikrikim were surprised when instead, he berated them for their own violence. Weiss warned them that if another violent event took place in Me'ah She'arim he would come out against them with his full force. Following this warning, Shalom Roset reportedly felt safe enough to return to his home, after a period in which his whereabouts were not known.

Gerrer hassidim have also been implicated in severe violence against Chabad Jews in Arad. This violence, too, took place in and around a synagogue.