Are These Not Jewish Children?

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rabbi-ron-yitzchok-eisenmanBy Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman

We have heard the news and perhaps seen the pictures.

The facts are not disputed.

A little eight year religious Jewish girl was attempting to walk to her school.

A group of (how many and who they represent is open to debate) Orthodox Jews verbally assaulted and spit at the young Jewish girl.

The focal point of this contentious issue is Naama Margolese, an eight year old pony tailed, bespectacled second-grader who is now afraid of walking to her religious school for fear of other Jews who have spat on her.

”When I walk to school in the morning I used to get a tummy ache because I was so scared … that they were going to stand and start yelling and spitting,” the pale, blue-eyed girl said softly in an interview with The Associated Press Monday. ”They were scary. They don’t want us to go to the school.”

It is obviously beyond the purview of this piece to decipher the intricacies of Israeli politics.

I cannot tell you how much of this media coverage is accurate and how much is anti-Semitic media hype.

I leave that issue to individuals who are better equipped and better informed than me to explain.

Has this issue led to unfair media bashing and of a mass grouping of ‘non-groupable’ peoples into one mindless mass of black-‘hatted’ men? Perhaps.

However, that is not my issue.

In my solitary mind, the only thing which irks me and causes me no rest is my constant inability to avoid the ubiquitous Elephant which invades my mind and soul.

The Elephant is ever-present and pervasive; he appears at all hours and breaches the confines of my mind as only an Elephant in the Room can.

What is this Elephant which causes me to feel unsettled and spiritually restless?

As I catch my breath and wipe away my tears please bear me as I recall a historically authenticated incident.

The event occurred in the 1930s in the Holy City of Yerushalayim.

The participants in the story are:

  • Rabbi Moshe Blau: an Agudas Yisroel activist and a 6th generation of the Old Yishuv. He was the editor of Agudah’s local weekly, Kol Yisroel, and was the brother of Rav Amram Blau of Neturei Karta. From 1933-1945, Rav Blau headed the Chareidi community in Jerusalem, working with Yishuv leaders in its dealings with the British Mandate authorities. (
  • Rabbi Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld: (1 Dec 1848 -26 Feb 1932) was the Chief and co-founder of the Edah HaChareidis, the Chareidi  Jewish community in Jerusalem, during the years of the British Mandate of Palestine.(Wikipedia)

Needless to say, neither of the above mentioned ‘Ultra-Orthodox’ Jews supported ‘Modernity’ or anything associated with it.

Both fought hard to maintain the ‘Old-Yishuv’ and its strict standards of modesty and gender separation.

The Incident*

*This incident is recorded in the auto-biography of Rabbi Moshe Blau; “Al Chomosaich Yerushalayim”; Netzach Publishing, Bnei Brak, 1967. Pages 114-115.

The narrator is Rabbi Moshe Blau himself and this entire chapter deals with Rabbi Blau’s relationship with his Rebbe, Rabbi Zonnenfeld:

“One day I left Shaarei Zedek Hospital in his (Rabbi Zonnenfeld’s) company. It was Tu B’Shevat (In the Zionist movement, Tu B’Shevat was (and is) a big event as it celebrates the people’s connection to the land- this comment is my own).

I noticed that from far away that students from the secular non-religious schools were approaching us; boys and girls (emphasis added by me), male and female teenagers (emphasis added by me), with the Zionist flag at the front of each group; the ‘workers songs’ (the Zionist were closely associated with the ‘Workers Movements: me again) coming from their mouths.

They were walking four abreast and the people on the street were pushed to the sides of the road.

I knew that that the sight of a few thousand boys and girls from non-religious schools walking in a parade immodestly dressed and without gender separation would cause Rabbi Zonnenfeld pain. Therefore I said to him, “The parade of children from the (non-religious) schools is coming; perhaps the Rebbe wants to go back into the hospital building?”

“No”, was his answer. {He then asked :}

“Are these not Jewish children?”

We were pushed to the side of the road as was everyone else.

The parade continued as each school marched in its own contingent with the sound of their songs penetrating the air.

I see that Rabbi Chaim Zonnenfeld is murmuring with his lips. I bent my ear [towards him] and I hear him saying and repeating: May the Lord add upon you, upon you and upon your children. Blessed are you to the Lord (Tehillim 115; 14-15) until the entire parade passed us.”

Rabbi Zonnenfeld was not a Zionist.

He did not approve of mixed activities.

He did not approve of ‘Modern’ approaches to Judaism.

However, he never lost sight of that one single truth which was in the forefront of all of his actions: “Are these not Jewish children?”

The Elephant Appears

One day I went to visit the Bostoner Rebbe* Zt”l.

[*Levi Yitzchak HeLevi Horowitz (born 3 July 1921, Boston, Massachusetts, died 5 December 2009. He was the first American-born Hasidic Rebbe and a champion of Orthodox Jewish outreach, reaching out to many students in the Boston area through hisNew England Chassidic Center. He was also the founder of ROFEH International, a community-based medical referral and hospitality liaison support agency. (Wikipedia)]

He spent over 45 minutes with me and told me many, many important things.

In the midst of our conversation he related to me that he recalls when his oldest son Rav Pinchus Dovid was born- the nurse brought him to see the baby.

It was soon after the Holocaust and the festering wound of genocide was fresh on every Jew’s flesh

The Rebbe’s holy and clear eyes began to tear as he looked at me and said, “As I gazed into the face of my new born Jewish child I could not help but wonder with amazement, “What type of human being would want to kill such an innocent baby?”

My eyes are tearing and my heart is breaking as I finally give expression to the Elephant in My Room which stalks me.

“What type of Jew spits on a Jewish girl?”

“Are these not Jewish children?”

May Hashem heal our festering wounds.

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Passaic, NJ

{Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman for}


  1. Rabbi Eisenman is a wonderful well known Rav, for his daily short vorts, as well as other shiurim. He has one of the biggest shuls in Passaic. Very well written.

  2. the secular israeli media hates naama margolese as much as they hate the sikrikim. they are merely using her as a way to attack jews. they spit on us all every day.

  3. Spot on! These are Jews with the “hands of Eisev.” We have to protect humanity from these self-proclaimed angels who think that the world around them has to made into heaven so they can live like perfect angels & not have to do what God wants, DEAL WITH THE WORLD THE WAY HE MAKES IT AND MAKE HIM A DWELLING PLACE FROM THE MATERIAL THAT IS GIVEN, NOT BE HOLIER THAN GOD AND TRY TO CHANGE HIS WORLD.

  4. And what type of Jewish mother runs to an Israeli TV station to air her child’s accusation? Nobody seems to know who, if anybody, did indeed spit at the kid.The massive chilul Hashem rests squarely with her.

  5. Shvigger, why are you trying to defend hooligans who are outside the machaneh? There is NO way the child made up this story. They even interviewed chareidim who said it was perfectly normal to spit at little girls! For all we know, the TV station found out about it from a third party and asked to interview the girl. The Chillul Hashem lies in the chareidi who spat at a little girl. Shame on him.

  6. This is so true, and a most beautiful story. Bnos Hashem Yisborach are being attacked by these criminal men. Bnei Yisrael act like yeraim and rachmanim, these spitters and cursers are behamos and mechutzaphim.

  7. Sorry, Mordy. YOu got it wrong and have zero clue of chilul Hashem. I’m not defending spitters. But the spitter’s avairah, chilul Hashem included, if he indeed spit, pales in comparison to Gveret Margolese’s. The spitter humiliated a fellow human being, an action which he could regret and ask the girl forgiveness once she turns bas mitzvah. The TV station shoved a microphone in front of the girl’s face and both mother and daughter were more than happy to be interviewed. As a modern woman, she HAD to know the anti-Torah and chereidi bias of the Israeli media and the massive chillul Hashem it would cause.

    Another elephant question: What does Mr. Margolese have to say in all of this?

    As for the interviews, you’d be hard pressed to find a TV crewman interviewing a sane individual. Sane individuals know that that chilonim are just provocateurs and avoid answering their biased questions.

    Frankly, I marvel at the self control of the masses in Beit Shemesh that they don’t run Mrs. Margolese out of town. In my book, she is out of the machneh, farther out than the spitter, whom I can at least classify as a lunatic.

  8. To “Shvigger” – No, no, no! Yours is the classic defense that a lawyer uses. The spitter performed an act of felony assault and you blame the victims?


  9. Shvigger

    Open your eyes ans top seeing the world as us v. Them. We are all Jews. People who spit on little girls deserve criticism. Regardless of who broadcasts it.

  10. I for one don’t appreciate people who live thousands of miles away pontificating on things they have no knowledge of. I don’t have any knowledge either, so I keep quiet. It seems prudent for others with similar lack of personal knowledge of the facts to do likewise. Indeed there has been no testimony and no din Torah so it seems responsible Rabbonim would refrain from making comments based on Israeli media accounts.

  11. Shvigger, and all the rest, what the Rav doesn’t mention is all the OTHER little girls in the neighborhood who have been spit on, cursed, called “shiksa” and “parutza,” and otherwise harassed by these sorry excuses for human beings, who desecrate the name of Torah, and the moniker “haredi.”

  12. One of them was my seven-year-old daughter, who came home in hysterical tears after being chased by a “haredi”. We filed a complaint with the police. Shvigger, the fact that you would jump to so many conclusions with so little facts should be embarrassing. The Margoleses are friends and neighbors. The girls have been harassed on and off since the beginning of the year. If anyone wants to hear how the pathetic story of how the press came to be involved, please contact me. I live in this neighborhood, and have been following everything closely since the beginning, including the involvement of the rabbonim. Rabbi Eisenmann, on behalf of the residents of Sheinfeld, thank you so much for your desperately needed support. Rachel Hershberg

  13. I find it revolting that Shvigger is more worried about haredi Jews looking bad than about little girls being safe on their way to school. Shocking.

  14. If anyone else would like to express desperately needed condemnation of these animals, and support of the Sheinfeld girls, please let me know and I will pass it on. Rachel

  15. I’d like to clarify my previous post. WE BROUGHT IN THE PRESS. And if a bunch of sickos were terrorizing your little girls, and the police weren’t doing anything about it, I certainly hope that you’d do the same. The fact that none of the Beit Shemesh rabbonim outside of the neighborhood offered any form of help didn’t help, either, but that’s secondary.

  16. Shvigger,
    I am hoping you don;t live in my neighborhood, although I know that is your right. When young Jewish neshomas were being molested, some among us were more concerned about the chillul hashem than protecting the innocent. I personally knew a young man who committed suicide because people wouldn;t believe his stories of abuse. While spitting on a young beautiful Jewish child doesn’t rise to the level of molestation, it is sickening to me to think that some people actually think that HKBH would have wanted the mother to ignore her child’s tortured cries and that it is Ratzon hashem that these things do not get broadcast. If broadcasting these sick actions ends up resulting in them stopping, then I dare say that we are allowed to assume that HKBH approves of the mother’s actions. Shame on you.

  17. Shvigger, what you don’t know is that the mother and many others had complained to the mayor and the authorities for many months about this behavior and little to nothing was done. After her TV appearance, SUDDENLY the mayor wanted to light Chanukka candles in her home and he took a very active interest in offering to put an end to this, as did the police. The Chilul Hashem (perpetrated against her) was in her inherently being forced to choose between exposing this on TV or allowing her daughter and other children to continue being traumatized. What she did was a Kiddush Hashem.

  18. Remember Leiby Kletzky a”h – just imagine if the Boro Park activist who tried to get people to root out abusers among them had been listened to.

    Might the Leiby tragedy have been prevented?

    In this case, Naamah’s mother at least seems to have made an attempt (in her way) to nip it in the bud.

    Not that I’m pro media – let me get that straight!

    Now that that’s established, consider R’Yehuda Hanassi who stated to a calf on its way to schita “ki lkach notzarta” and was punished for his lack of compassion.

    Yet that seems to be the prevailing current attitude in various segments of our socieites, without considering the story of R’Yehuda who was punished for that exact attitude.

  19. Just got back to the US from Beit Shemesh. My granddaughter, who was modestly dressed by religious standards, was screamed at and harassed to the point of great fear by sikhari who called her “Schikzer” and “whore.” This type of behavior has been going on for months, and the mayor and police have done nothing to protect the children. There were numerous attempts to secure the help of the mainstream charredi community to deal with the extreme group to no success. It was at that point that the press was asked to help. In Ramat Beit Shemesh the sikhari have been intimidating and terrifying mainstream charred with their extreme views. The issue “took off” in Israel because of other concerns about the status of women in busses and public spaces. Do the public spaces and busses belong to all the people or to a subgroup?

  20. Great article. Though the content and commentary do worry me a little bit. I’m Jewish, but are we not to be concerned with the well-being of other children as well? Suppose she was an 8 year old Christian girl on the way to school? Would being spat at be justified because the question, “Are these not Jewish children” is no longer relevant? This really worries me. The single most dangerous thing that the Jewish community can do is to disregard the connection we now maintain with secular & non-Jewish world. This promotes the kind of behavior and mindset that anti-semites salivate to get their hands on.

    Rachel’s comments were spot on in regards to the real issue at hand. When all attempts to handle these aveirot go ignored, the chilul Hashem cannot be blamed on the mother who is protecting her child. If anyone thinks otherwise, perhaps it’s best if they refrain from parenthood themselves.

  21. To Cohen, #21 – Your post is ambiguous, but if I’m understanding it correctly, I just feel really bad for your kids, because it’s clear to them, if not to YOU, that you’re willing to sacrifice their well-being to protect what you perceive as clal Yisrael’s good name. And you know what – that attitude is slowly become clear to the non-Jews as well. They call it, “cover-up.”

  22. To “Pontificating”: Your comment is as nonsensical as those from “Shvigger”. Crying on behalf of a mistreated child is not pontificating – it is called human sensitivity.

    I wish your grandchildren better, as well as those of Shivgger.

  23. Really Now, I’m with Avi. The question can only be,

    “What type of human being spits on a little girl?”


    “Are these not children?”

    Focusing on the degree of Jewishness of those involved, maybe that’s the chilul Hashem?

  24. I agree with Avi and Dan – it is understandable, and even good, that we expect higher from religious Jews, and it is normal that we experience a greater sense of identification with and allegiance to our own nation. But we also need to remember that this issue touches on basic human dignity.

  25. Avi and Dan, I’m not sure I follow you. Of course it’s not acceptable to spit at a non-Jewish children. But then again, it’s not acceptable to spit on an a little boy, or an older child, or an adult, Jewish or otherwise, either Yet you have no problem with asking “What type of human being spits on a little girl?” It’s just the word “Jewish” that bothers you for some reason.


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