Thursday, April 19, 2007

Beis Yaakov Punishment: Say Tehillim.

One important position on my blog that I adopted last year was that I promote aliya, regardless of a person's individual stream of religious observance. I have Hareidi friends, feel comfortable walking around Mea Shearim, and while I don't own a black hat anymore, it certainly doesn't bother me.

There are many aspects of Hareidi, "ultra" orthodoxy that I admire.

However, the following story sent me to (hat-tip; Marcy) leaves me scratching my head.
Seven pupils at a Beit Ya'akov school in Netanya were punished after they stood up for the siren that sounded Monday in honor of Holocaust Memorial Day (Monday), Yediot Aharonot reported.

According to the report, the school principal removed the girls from their classroom and forced them to stand up for the rest of the day and read psalms.

In Haredi circles, using sirens and "moments of silence" to mark memorial holidays is considered a gentile custom and is discouraged.

Haredi rabbis often encourage their followers to recite psalms or other prayers silently during the siren.
These girls may have been saying tehillim quietly...but the fact that they stood up for the siren (Zionist adoption of "gentile practice") is why they were punished.

And their punishment? They were forced them to stand up for the rest of the day and read that the sort of punishment/negativity about tehillim that Beis Yaakov wishes to impart to their students?

There are many ways the school can educate students about their philosophy of not standing up for a siren on Yom HaShoah, but to use tehillim as a punishment and "punishing" them in the first place will only make them want to rebel, adopt a negative attitude towards tehillim, and worst of all -- they will probably stand quietly again next year.

PS: A shout-out to Annie, who's brother is sitting next to me.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

Even though we are "tzioyni", for various reasons, one of my sons goes to a school run by chareidim. While the school tries to be sensitive and not impose a hashkafa that comes between the student and the parents (most or all of the students from from national religious homes) my son was told that they will learn or say tehillim and not stand during the siren. Personally I stand, but I say tehillim. Jews do stand out of respect, and that's my intention when I stand.
I totally agree with you Jameel about the inappropriateness of this punishment. More fitting might be to copy out a tshuva of the Chazon Ish or other Gadol on the topic. I'm assuming such a thing exists. (Copying text is a common punishment in chareidi schools here.)

Annie said...

Is that to me?

JJ said...

Ugh, I feel really bad after reading that. Then again, it bothers me that the haredim don't stand. I think the disrespect it shows supercedes any worries that it's a "gentile" thing to do.

But the fact that these girls were punished, and in this way...upsetting. Very upsetting.

BTW, Jameel, I've had a hard time reading your blog lately. Many times it's all squiggly and unreadable- and just now I had to try about 10 times before I was able to read your whole post. Weird.

Anonymous said...

Yet another example of how some Haredim are willfully ignorant of Judaism.

Why do we stand for a sefer torah?
For kaddish? (ashkenazim at least)
For a rabbi?
While putting on tefilin?

Standing up is a Jewish way to show respect for someone/something.

I guess, now that non-Jews do it too, it doesn't count as real torah anymore. (see Kevod habriyot, tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, bal tshchit, etc)

Lion of Zion said...

kol hakavod to these girls.


i think that what the haredim object to as hukot hagoyyim is the minute of silence, not the standing aspect. i hope to post about this over the next day or 2.


this entire story drives me crazy. but i'm not sure why making them recite tehillim is a bad "punishment." i always thought that the best punishments are those that are educational, constuctive, etc. reciting tehillim is a lot better than other punishments.

also, the article was not clear. was the punishment of reciting tehillim chosen randomly, or was the point that this is the proper way to memorialize the kedoshim?

Anonymous said...

"There are many aspects of Hareidi, "ultra" orthodoxy that I admire."

Please write about that in the future as well.

Thank you

Lady-Light said...

From what I've been reading about the behaviors of Haredim in books (The Unchosen by Hella Winston) and on websites (specifically, their verbal, emotional and sometimes even physical abuse of women sitting in the front of 'unofficial' so-called Haredi buses), I don't see much about the Haredim to admire.
Please prove me wrong.

stillruleall said...

What really happened in the class? Did the girls look around in surprise when the siren went off, realize no one else was going to stand, then quietly stand without trying to make a scene while the rebbi was talking? Or, maybe, they went into class with the intent of disturbing it? If they really felt that they had to stand up then they could have walked out and gone to the bathroom, called in sick, talked to the principal and explained their problem. I cant believe they were innocently standing as the article makes it sound.
More likely no one cares anymore to see pictures of Meah Shearim during the siren so they found a way to tell the same story with a different twist.

stillruleall said...

Something to admire about Charaidim.

almost every organization that helps kids with cancer, people in hospitals, soup kitchens, lending out medical supplies are all open to everyone and run by charaidim.

PsychoToddler said...

I am one of a handful of people who stand up when the prayer for "Eretz Yisroel" is recited in my shul.

It's interesting that as the shul demographics have changed, so too has the name of the prayer (it used to be the "prayer for Israel"), and so too has the number of people who stand for it diminished.

The shul was founded by older european Jews. It has become more of a new Chassidish/Black Hat/BT place.

Only the handful of MOs seem to have any interest in the prayer now.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I don't believe the whole story in the first place. What did you say the source was, the "last idiot"?
That paper always wants to put chareidim or mitnachalim in the bad light.

Y.W. Editor said...

I have a hard time believing the story.

This is such a fake it's incredible.

What will the left-winged anti-semitic Israeli media come up with next?

Lion of Zion said...

lady light:

"Please prove me wrong."

on haredim and gemachs (which jameel introduced me to), see

Sara with NO H said...

I hadn't heard of this and to be honest, I haven't read other comments because I don't want any of them to influence what I have to say.

I used to babysit for a woman who when her children would misbehave she would send them on time-outs by having them sit on the potty. When the girls were almost 4 years old and not potty trained, the mother didn't understand and would get even more upset and send them to the potty.

What on earth would make anyone think that forceably punishing someone with something that's supposed to be good for us would make us turn to it in a time of need?

Jacob Da Jew said...

All I can say is "OY".

Bas~Melech said...

Although I will try to adhere to the laws of loshon hara and not believe this story, it does bring forth a point that is valid.

As for the standing or not, to each his own. When I am in Israel on this day I do it out of respect, but that school's administration is entitled to set policies as it sees fit.

Assuming the expectation of not standing was clarified to the students in advance, it is within the rights of a teacher to punish violation of the rule.

However, as a practicing Jew I find it offensive when religious actions are used as punishment. What message are you trying to give? This happens often in religious schools worldwide. It is now strongly discouraged in public schools to give extra homework as a punishment because it gives students a negative attitude towards learning. I think they're on the right track.

the apple said...

I was in seminary last year at a Bais Yaakov chareidi institution. On Yom Hazikaron, when the siren went off, the teacher talked right through it. This to me was a) offensive - even if you don't believe in sending your sons to the army, there are boys dying for you, so that you can afford to not send your son to serve in the army so why not just stop talking and think about that for a while; and b) stupid - we couldn't hear her anyway.

Even if sirens/moments of silence are chukas hagoyim, in the case of Yom Hazikaron and Yom Hashoah, we are taking the time to think about Jews. And for Jews to ignore what other Jews went through so that we as a people can still be flourishing today - I find that to be a tremendous lack of kavod and mentchlichkeit. Okay, so you don't agree with the actions taken - use the time then to do something positive like say tehillim. But don't be petty. Please. It's not good for yours or anyone's spiritual health.

the sabra said...

lavoie would frown on tehillim as a punishment

Anonymous said...

Yikes, there's more than one annie here! Annie, the shout-out was for me. I have a different blogger name (though I can't remember it! It's so long since I used it). If I sign myself annie, it's without the blogger profile link. I'll change my name a bit to differentiate from you.

Hi Jameel, I got your regards from my bro. Thank you :-) Your post on Budapest was beautiful.

Anonymous said...

stillruleal I wouldnt want to go to the bathroom, stand in silence and think about kedoshim of the holocaust.
As a chardel/charedi/yeshivish/nationalist/ person it is a must to stand out of respect for those survivors who are mourning their families. Did u ever see anyone sit or talk at a levaya, shiloshim or hakamos matzava?
The teacher who just talks through the siren will not gain the essence of respect and honor for his/her torah through that action.
There is probably more to this story than reported, I'd speak to one of the students or teachers to add the facts to the media's show.

re* Gemachs and chesed organizations, most are run, managed and volunteers come from the religious oliam (not chardei only)

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

Once on of my sons, in a National Religious School, was given Torah homework as a punishment. It was a group punishment to a class that was misbehaving. The Rav was in his first year as a teacher. We were very upset and let the Rav know. It helped. A little. It still happened occasionally. Just so you know it's not just the Chareidim who make mistakes. I second StillRuleAll's questions!

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

And the story about the potty is horrifying!

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

one of the first things i learned in teacher school was not to use anything that's a method of learning as a punishment, because it turns the students off of learning itself.

Mama K said...

If this story is true, these girls were likely either trying to make a point or rebel - not uncommon for the age group. I'm sure they expected to be called on the carpet for it. As an educator of young adolescents, I believe a more appropriate punishment would have been to chat with the principal/teacher about exactly why charedim don't stand. Religious schools are meant to impart a certain hashkafa, are they not? This incident could've been used to educate.

Then, if the school still insisted on punishment for a violation of the rules, perhaps some cleaning of the tables in the cafeteria or removing debris from the school grounds would've been in order.

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