Lapid: Secular Israelis Increasingly Fed Up With Charedi Recklessness


yair-lapidThe following one-sided editorial by Yair Lapid appears in the Yediot Achronot and on its websites. Lapid details the left’s deep dislike for chareidim and states that secular Israelisare fed up with “charedi recklessness.” There is much to learn by reading this, as painful as it may be. It represents half a story, and is replete with generalizations. But it does speaksvolumes about how far some of our irreligious brethren have gone from the path of Torah and how deep the schism is between those who adhere to the Torah fand the secular Israelis who have for the most part adopted lives consistent with poular Western culture. There is no question that there is deep animosity by many irreligious and even moderately religious Israelis toward those who lead Torah lives, and especially chareidim. This is a reality that will likely not go away soon. The following write-up is quite typical of the average secular Israelis feelings towards us frum Yidden:

At first I was getting emails like this once a week. Then it became a daily occurrence. By now, it’s a barrage.

“Dear Mr. Lapid,” writes Moshe from Raanana, or Hanna from Ofakim, or Rickey from Haifa. “In light of the charedi unruliness in recent weeks, I urge you to consider the reestablishment of the Shinui party. The time has come to put an end to these shameless displays.”

These emails usually include an attachment containing selected quotes from the hcaredi media which the writers present in order to outrage me. Here are a few brief samples:

“Anti-Semitism did not disappear with the Nazis,” writes Prime Minister Prize winner Chaim Walder. “It was internalized by many Jews…they simply decided to replace their persecutors and continue their work here.”

Meanwhile, religious newspaper Yated Ne’eman charges: “The ideological perverts also knows as seculars…are beasts. Sophisticated beasts perhaps, as their external appearance is human.”

And after Moshe or Hanna or Rickey are done with expressing their opinion (“Why doesn’t anyone sue them?”) they always note that their neighbors feel the same way and will be happy to offer support and paint the walls at the neglected Shinui branch in their neighborhood, in case I’m considering the matter.

I am not considering the matter, and I think that had my last name not been “Lapid,” the letters would reach a more appropriate address.

But perhaps the charedim should consider this matter.

I was not among the founders of Shinui, but I was watching from up close, and I can attest that the circumstances at that time were quite similar to what is happening right now. As opposed to the myths prevalent in Bnei Brak and in Mea Shearim, Shinui’s establishment was not promoted by hatred for the ultra-Orthodox. It won 15 Knesset seats not because they are charedim, but rather, despite the fact they are charedim.

The average secular does not hate charedim. They remind him to a large extent of his grandfather, and he wishes to live in a Jewish state where the family sits around the Seder table, where there are no cars on the streets on Yom Kippur, and where the State of Israel’s official emblem – the Menorah – is a duplication of the Menorah described in the book of Exodus; the one that was placed in the Temple.

Seculars know, even if they don’t think about it every day, that Judaism was preserved in the Diaspora thanks to the charedim. The fact that they insist on maintaining their reclusive customs in the Jewish State may appear weird, perhaps, but we understand the charedi fear of the secular world’s temptations.

As long as the charedim make do with this, we only have one disagreement with them: The fact that they do not serve in the IDF. In many ways, even when it comes to this issue, we can only blame ourselves. We were wrong to allow the debate about military service to focus on the question of whether they will be “wasting” three years instead of studying the Torah. Those lost years are not the problem of a young person who joins the army, but rather, the chance that he’ll return in a black body bag.

The issue here is that some people in this country may die for the sake of the State of Israel’s existence, while other people are exempt from this risk.

Nonetheless, we forgave. As long as the charedim were a quiet minority that merely seeks to maintain its separatist way of life, they did not bother anyone. However, in the years before Shinui’s establishment this balance was wrecked.

The charedim came out of the Jewish closet and decided to run our lives. Yeshiva and religious services budgets kept on growing, time and again we discovered cases of corruption and bribery, charedi protests became violent, they made pretenses of telling us where we’re allowed to park, when we’re allowed to shop, and what we’re allowed to eat.

Their blatant contempt for us became increasingly blunter, until the seculars got sick and tired of it, and Shinui was established.

Shinui’s election success and the fact it delivered on its promise and enabled the formation of a government without charedi parties was a traumatic event for the charedim. For the first time, they discovered the great anger they stir and also suffered its consequences: The Ministry of Religious Affairs was shut down, funds earmarked to yeshivas were limited, and child allowances returned to normalcy.

There is no charedi family that was not hurt by this, and for a moment it appeared that a quiet revolution was getting underway (manifested mostly by women joining the workforce) that will culminate with better integration into Israeli society.

However, they forgot quickly.

Less than four years passed since Shinui’s dissipation, and everything is back to the way it used to be. Shas and Agudat Israeli are again enjoying the perks of power, the Religious Affairs Ministry was reestablished, and the charedi courts abuses converts, as usual.

Meanwhile, Eli Yishai sends embarrassing letters to the president, Ethiopian children are kept out of religious schools because of shocking racism, and members of the Eda Haredit sect launch a series of violent protests in the streets of Jerusalem – first directed against the hospitals that treat them and welfare services that help them, and later in a bid to force seculars to park on the sidewalk rather than in a parking lot.

Just like in the previous round, the charedim are going too far because they believe no reaction will be forthcoming. The seculars appear to them as too weak, too indifferent, and too spoiled; the charedim think the seculars don’t really care. Just like in the previous round, they’re wrong.

Last week I spoke with former Interior Minister Avraham Poraz who told me that his mailbox has also been bombarded in recent months with “when are you coming back?” emails. Poraz is a wise man, who observes developments with the thin smile of a man who already saw everything.

“The charedim prompted the establishment of Shulamit Aloni’s party the same way,” he said. “They always calm down for a few years, and then start over again, and every time they encounter a harsher reaction. I wonder when they’ll learn the lesson.”
This op-ed is not written by an interested party. At best, it represents the views of a protestor. If there are any charedim out there who are reading this, they should know that they can still avert the establishment of the next Shinui.

I am not arguing, heaven forbid, that they must avoid struggles over issues that are important to them. This is the right of every citizen in a democratic state. However, should they continue in the current path – and mostly in the current style – they should not be surprised to see the establishments of the next secular party. They are establishing it with their own hands.


{Yair Newscenter}


  1. They should be as the charedim are fed up by the chilonim and their spiritual recklessness.


  2. It is amazing how the secularist so strongly object to the chareidim being vocal and not allowing their rights in their neighborhoods, on their dead to be stepped on. The chareidim also are well aware from experience not to rely on the Israeli judicial system for any sort of justice. So the secular response to this is, go as sheep to the slaughter

  3. Both sides have many things to reproach. The sad thing is the lack of ahavas Israel that seems to be the only thing there is common between us.


  4. The whole nation mourned Aharon, because he brought peace. Everyone on this forum should ask themselves whether the charedim are somehow deserving of these feeling and if there is any truth to what he says. And if your answer is that we are perfect and they are evil, you have your head in the sand.

  5. To #2 ‘Annoyed’ and any who might agree with him/ her:

    Please re-read the excellent article on this website from Aug 27 about Rav Simcha HaKohen Kook, the chief Rabbi of Rechovot. If you truly care about HaShem, the Torah, and the Jewish people–then he is your role model–not the animals rioting. Like Aharon (thank you #4) he is ‘rodef shalom’.

    Also, frankly, if you think that anyone outside of the Chareidi community believes that the people who burn garbage cans and attack police deserve any support, you’re mistaken. I realize that they are a small minority, but unless they are strongly condemned, non religious people will be influenced by it– just like many chareidi blame the larger non religious public for the anti religious hatred of the few.

  6. Having been on both sides of the chiloni – chareidi divide, I can say that Mr. Lapid is speaking the chiloni version of the truth.

    This is indeed how they see us. When I was in Israel, before I became frum, I was somewhat puzzled by the Chareidi stance, but I was willing to live and let live. Now that I’m on the other side of the divide, I can see how both sides contribute to the problem. We can only control what we ourselves do, but that in itself can cause positive reactions.

    First, stop calling chilonim names. The ideologists responsible for chilonut have been gone for two generations already. Their grandchildren are tinokot she’nishbaot, and grant that many of them still have a connection to tradition, although it’s not the one we would like. No one ever got someone else to change their opinion by insulting them. Human psychology just doesn’t work that way. Of course, if you feel tempted by the “world” and need to insult it to keep your own yetzer hara at bay (I suspect this may be the case with many of the worst name-callers) then you should talk to your Rav or Rebbe and get some guidance. Divrei chachimim b’nachas nishma’im.

    Second, we need to behave according to the Torah. We need to put our maasiot where our mouths are and conduct ourselves according to ahavas Yisroel and plain old derech eretz. Throwing rocks, burning garbage and cursing officers are not the sort of thing that leads other people to honor the Torah. It looks like egoism and “exceptionalism” – if chilonim were rioting and throwing rocks at chareidim we would certainly want the police to act.

    Let’s get out of our mental straitjackets, learn to hear what the other side is saying, and start making some positive responses, even if it isn’t as much fun as name-calling.