Sunday, November 04, 2012

"Kiruv" and its Effects on Har Nof

I saw a very interesting letter on the "Har Nof" list. The author of the letter bemoans the behavior of some of the yeshiva and seminary students in the Har Nof neighborhood. On the one hand, he is all for kiruv, understanding its importance to the Jewish People. On the other hand, he is distressed about the effect that these students are having on his community, which is overwhelmingly ultra-Orthodox:
This is an open, general letter of concern, penned to *all local seminary/yeshiva students.*

I am writing on behalf of a number of our fellow residents of Har Nof, regarding the apparent degeneration of standards pertaining to the talmidim and talmidot based in Har Nof.

As we all know, it is a tremendous 'zechus' for Jewish youngsters to be able to strengthen their identities as proud and knowledgeable Jews, here in Eretz Yisrael.

However, this zechus and privilege simply *cannot* come at the expense of established residents, who are striving to fulfil more long-term dreams and aspirations.

The long-established 'Shaulzon Shuffle' has been an unfortunate landmark of Har Nof since as long as I can remember (I've been here 5 years). Yet, the general disregard for locals' spiritual sensitivities has perhaps sunk to far lower levels than 'Friday night intermingling' in recent times.

It is more than understood that young boys and girls do indeed need an outlet- regular opportunities to vent excess energy, as it were.

However, we wish to make this point absolutely, unequivocally clear: The venting of this energy cannot equal the religious and material suffering of the same people who happily provide you with meals every Shabbos and Yom Tov, as well as spare beds for your friends as and when they are needed.

At no point should the wanton excess glorified by Western culture come to find a safe haven here in Yerushalayim. Here, I refer to the growing tendency of seminary girls (more so than Yeshiva bochurim I might add) to congregate in local parks, behaving boisterously (if that terminology can even be used with reference to girls!) until the small hours of the morning.

On almost a dozen occasions this zman alone, my wife & baby have been rudely awoken by such incidents- often fuelled by alcohol- as girls sing/shout/scream at the top of their lungs, apparently unaware that it is almost Alos Hashachar.

We understand and appreciate that many girls will find it necessary to visit Ben Yehuda, have fun, and generally relax a bit from their weekly studies. Yet, at no point should Ben Yehuda street be replicated here in Har Nof. Point in hand: as I type this plea, a small glance out of my window reveals two wonderful sights: to my left, a young male & female sitting on a bench, openly kissing. To my right, a group of quite intoxicated females who are apparently her friends are, cursing loudly. cheering and calling her name. Sorry: two just started urinating against a parked car. I am not exaggerating one iota.

In five years here in Har Nof, I have never, ever witnessed such decadence, and yet it is now an occurrence which is unfortunately repeating itself far too often in parks throughout Har Nof.

Therefore, to the honoured and esteemed teachers and Rabbonim of these Seminaries, I say: The religious scruples and standards of your students are frankly none of my business. Where they happen to be 'holding' is a matter between themselves and their Creator. Any yet, neither are *my* religious scruples and standards any of *yours* or *theirs.*

I state as a fact that the vast majority of Har Nof's residents are 'holding' at a point where they do not want to see (nor for their kids to see) scantily-clad girls cavorting, half drunk, through the streets of our neighbourhood. They do not want to see these girls' boyfriends, nor what they and their boyfriend think of eachother.

A point to consider: I, as well as most of my friends, gladly and willingly host any number of seminary girls, if and when we are asked- both to sleep and to eat. We do not question their levels of observance, nor knowledge, we simply accept the request from assistance which comes from *you*- their teachers and Rabbonim- unquestioningly.

If this one-sided flow of chessed is to continue, it is neither unreasonable nor unjustified that we ask of you one thing in return:

To ensure that just as we bend over backwards to make your students' lives comfortable, you make at least a minimal effort to make *ours* comfortable: by emphasising to them that Har Nof is *not* Ben Yehuda, nor is it a giant nightclub. It is a wonderful and welcoming sechuna, filled with incredible people who have so much to give.

It is high time you gave something in return.

Yours with the utmost sincerity,
What do you think?


yaak said...

Good for him. Not an easy problem to solve though.

Maybe if the Yeshivot and seminaries would distribute the letter to the students, they might see how their actions affect the community.

Cosmic X said...


I agree. That's a good idea. However, the problem seems to be quite complex, involving different groups: foreign students, local youth, and youth that come to Har Nof from other neighborhoods.

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