Sunday, February 06, 2011

Chareidi Taliban Women

A rather scary article appears in ynetnews, describing the growing cult of Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem's Chareid Taliban "Burqa" women, who cover themselves from head to toe out of a misguided notion that Sharia-extreme modesty is somehow connected to the Judaism.

Not only are women fully burqa'd in this fast-growing cult, but it includes dressing girls in them from age 6.

Here's a bit of the can read it all at YNET.
The fact that most of the "Taliban women" are newly-religious does not help either. "It's unacceptable that that the newly-religious will tell us that our women aren't modest and good enough," a senior haredi businessman explained.

It does make sense however that these women are newly-religious. Extremism is very common amongst people who change their lifestyle in a radical manner, from a secular life to a religious one and vise-versa.

"Similar to those who search for meaning in their lives or feel lost and seek help, these girls are inspired by a dominant figure," said a father of a newly-religious girl who now belongs to a cult. "I personally feel that in both cases it's a matter of exploiting weaknesses, but ultimately my daughter is happy and pleased with the life she has chosen, so I have to accept it."

His daughter, however, sees nothing wrong with her unusual appearance. "I think that seculars, who are used to seeing girls dressed in minimal clothing, are the weird ones," she said. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm following the rules of modesty which are also meant to save men from themselves. A man who sees a woman's body parts is sexually aroused, and this might cause him to commit sin. Even if he doesn't actually sin physically, his impure thoughts are sin in themselves."

But what about little girls? Why do 6-year-olds need to walk around covered head-to-toe? "There are enough men who look at them as sexual objects. Such values must be taught at an early age," she explained.

Husbands of the "Taliban women" usually accept the way their wives dress. "Some of them do it out of weakness and lack of choice, others claim they put up with it because of a higher calling and purity. I think they are simply weak. If we're being honest, haredi men are not involved with what goes on at home. They spend most of their days in their yeshivot."

The ultra-Orthodox "Jewish Taliban" cult is one of the most extreme groups ever established in Israel. Established over six years ago, when haredi women tried to fight immodesty in Israel, the group's members decided to wear a robe covering their bodies from the shoulders down.

This cult now has hundreds of members all over the country. Their motto is clear: Cover up as much as you can in the name of modesty.

This initiative was received positively by many haredi circles and was even accompanied by an enthusiastic letter of support signed by Badatz rabbis, the ultra-Orthodox court of justice, and Eda Haredit leader Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss.

Slowly but surely more women began joining the cult, covering their heads so only their faces were showing. This turned into a popular trend and in the past three years has turned into full face coverage.

"It all started with three women who covered their entire bodies," said a senior haredi businessman. "Then eight more joined in Jerusalem and 12 in Beit Shemesh, almost all of them newly-religious. Together with their daughters they are a group of about a 100 women. The rest of the 'cult' members expose their faces, and consist of roughly 500 women."
These days its not uncommon when taking the #2 bus to the Old City of Jerusalem to see women and girls dressed like this.

And its scary that Sharia law is making inroads into Chareidi Judaism.

hat-tip: Mom in Israel

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Don Cox said...

I think it's a fashion, and will pass if nobody takes any notice.

Anonymous said...

Im not sure how accurate the part that the badatz approved is. earlier the badatz had said that if a husband wants the wife not to dress like that and she refuses, she forfeits her kesuba!

Sarah said...

I have a feeling that the approval was a few years ago. More recently badatz made a half-hearted statement against it, signed by no one high up in the organization. Which probably means they don't approve but don't want to fight too hard for some reason - maybe because they know how tough extremists can be, maybe because they feel there's a lot of grey area in ultra-tznius they don't want to inadvertently speak against.

mother in israel said...

From what I'm hearing the most extreme dress is not at all limited to "newly religious." On my blog I also have pictures and videos:

Anonymous said...


As far as I am aware the only reference in Judaism on women veiling / covering up is the story of Judah and Tamar.

Anonymous said...

That can't be all - there's also Leah at the wedding - or is that midrash?

S. said...

Unfortunately there is a very clear precedent, where no disapproval whatever is given. See the Mishnah on Shabbat 80a.

Basically, in the Jewish tradition veiling is a local norm which is neither promoted nor comdemned.

Presumably there is room to condemn it where and when it is not a local norm. But once it is, it would be hard, from the point of view of Jewish tradition, to condemn it.

The time to stop it is now, not later.

mother in israel said...

S., we can't find the reference.

Anonymous said...

Where are sheitels "connected to Judaism"? Nowhere, yet it's still widely practiced. This is just another one of those kinds of things.

Not to mention that the evidence for hair covering as a commandment in the Torah is extremely weak (to nonexistent).

mother in israel said...

never mind, found it on 65a, (Shabbat 6:6)

Anonymous said...

I find it difficult to comprehend why this is not outlawed from a security perspective.

C 'R U said...

I have another idea. These women should wander around with blindfolds and hand them out to men that have problems looking at them. I haven't solved the issue about the men who are driving cars at the time but it may .... CRASH!

roland said...

Do you take anything YNET reports about religious people seriously?

Anonymous said...

But I'd sure like to see some photos. If it is so prevalent can someone get some, send to Jameel and he can post them.

Anonymous said...

All this proves is that radicalism wherever it appears is wrong and should be condemned by all who those who see it for what it is. A return to the past patriarchial society where man considered his wife as nothing less than his sheep or his cows.

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