January 08, 2012

Speaking Their Voices - Women and Girls of Beit Shemesh

Beit Shemesh is a neighborhood of approximately 80,000 in Jerusalem, Israel. It is home to an ultra-Orthodox sect of Jewish people, along with many other residents. With an increase of immigrants, especially of American expatriates, there are rising tensions between the ultra Orthodox and other Orthodox residents. Most recently, an uproar began over the establishment of a new national religious school for girls, Orot Banot. Upon the opening of Orot Banot, there were violent protests from the most ultra-Orthodox men who feel the students don't abide by the special extra stringent rules of dress and lifestyle espoused by the ultra-Orthodox community.  Many of these girls, as young as 7 years old, have been harassed, cursed at, spat on, and have had rocks thrown at them all in the name of what? God, real estate, "self-preservation"? This is mind boggling! Check out the video below.

Despite (and perhaps because of) these horrific offenses, women and girls in Beit Shemesh are speaking out! Their voices will not be extinguished. Anti-extremist rallies have also been held and hopefully will continue - if nothing else then to protect the right of our girls to live in a safe, violence-free world.

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