Ponovezh Yeshiva
Ponovezh YeshivaFlash 90

The head of Bnei Brak's flagship Lithuanian-haredi Ponevezh Yeshiva joined a growing chorus of haredi leaders that have harshly criticized the radical haredi Yerushalmi Faction.

The Yerushalmi Faction has been blocking roads across Jerusalem over the past week as part of their protest against registering for the IDF and the arrest of two haredi draft dodgers.

Speaking before hundreds of students, Rabbi Baruch Dov Povarski harshly criticized the protests. "These people demonstrating outside are not human," said the rabbi. He went on to give a Torah lecture in which he cited a wealth of Jewish sources to condemn the Yerushalmi Faction and implored his students "to continue learning Torah and following God's ways, not like those demonstrating".

Rabbi Povarski is one of the more prominent haredi leaders to criticize the Yerushalmi Faction over the last few days. On Wednesday, the Sephardi-haredi Shas party officially condemned the Yerushalmi Faction, writing in a letter sent to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein that "we express disgust with the actions of a handful of Haredi demonstrators who violate public order".

The missive further clarified that "their path is not our path and their deeds are not the spirit of the Torah".

On Sunday, Rabbi Yigal Rosen, who is the Dean of the Ohr Yisrael Yeshiva in Petah Tikva, excoriated the radical Yerushalmi Faction, comparing the group to Islamic terrorists and Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

“There has never been anything like this,” Rabbi Rosen said, according to Behadrei Haredim.

“Many people express shock [when I say this] and ask ‘what happened?’ For those of you who don’t know, I’ll reveal a little secret to you. Some masters of propaganda – people would could have taught the Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels a thing or two – used every means available to spread [their lies], even using methods which are completely forbidden, saying that there is a certain dean at Ohr Yisrael Yeshiva who suggested… that students take an abbreviated [army] training course during vacation. They spread this in such a way that [the rumor] in such unbelievable terms, as if it were fact, resulting in very serious responses [against myself].”

On Thursday, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky slammed the Yerushalmi Faction in a written statement, calling members “empty, foolish and reckless”.

"I was outraged when I heard recently how the honor of the Torah was utterly desecrated by a few empty, foolish and reckless people who insulted one of the great Torah educators of our generation,” wrote Kanievsky.

“They did so in various ways that cannot even be described. They're acting like sheep who have no shepherd - there is no fear of Heaven here! Woe unto us that such a thing could happen today."

In addition, Ynet reported on Wednesday that a group of haredi activists have taken to publically shaming Yerushalmi Faction members after feeling that the Faction's extremist activity is giving the mainstream haredi community a bad name. According to the report, haredim have been collecting information about different rioters and publishing it on large posters under the title 'This is the man who kept you waiting in traffic for six hours'.