Volume 31 Number 61
                 Produced: Thu Feb 17  5:05:44 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Aharon Fischman]
"All can compel Ascension"
         [Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer]
Dealing with sexual abuse
         [Rabbi Josef Blau]
Sexual Abuse
Sexual Harassment in Israel (4)
         [Anonymous, Naomi Kingsley, Carl M. Sherer, David Weitz]


From: Aharon Fischman <afischman@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 09:43:44 -0500
Subject: RE: Aliyah

Carl M. Sherer writes:
>I know that I have made a lot of you feel uncomfortable with this entire
>discussion. If it makes you feel uncomfortable enough to do that real
>cheshbon hanefesh (soul searching) as to why you are not here, then I
>think it inevitable that some of you will realize that you ought to be
>here. In which case, I might have accomplished something aside from
>raising everyone's blood pressure (including my own)!

I think Carl is right, and it follows what I had said earlier that the
emotional decision is paramount.  All the issues pro and con of living
in Israel vs. the Diaspora can be (and have been here) argued back and
forth to no end.  Ultimately it boils down an emotional decision
(chesbon hanefesh as Carl says) of whether one wants to or doesn't want
to make Aliyah.  Most other arguments can be viewed as supporting
whatever position that person feels.



From: Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer <sbechhof@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2000 06:10:11 -0600
Subject: "All can compel Ascension"

> From: Sheri & Seth Kadish <skadish@...>
> "Why can a spouse force their partner to move to Eretz Yisrael?
> I found the answer to that question in MeAfar Kumi by R' Tzvi Glatt...
> R' Glatt goes so far as to say: "I didn't find in the Rishonim or the
> Achronim, anyone who disagreed with the simple understanding that the
> compelling to make aliya to Eretz Yisrael is because of the the mitzva
> to live in Eretz Yisrael."

See, however, the Yerushalmi at the end of Kesuvos that argues on the


From: Rabbi Josef Blau <yoblau@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 10:56:37 -0500
Subject: Dealing with sexual abuse

 Recent postings have focused attention on the problem of sexual abuse
in the religious community.  Since sexual abuse is usually a pattern of
behavior, not dealing with even a small number of abusers causes many
victims to suffer.  If we demand the high standard of halachic proof
before investigating charges then no progress will be made.  Halacha
itself allows for appropriate punishments for criminals when Torah
standards of evidence are not met.
 Accusations alone are not proof.  However if an appropriate body is
organized to listen to complaints that would include individuals trained
to recognize abuse and would be supported by rabbinical leadership, then
victims will have somewhere to turn.  Predators include rabbis and
educators and youth leaders where the victims assume that their
complaints will be dismissed.  National rabbinical organizations and
associations of yeshivos and day schools as well as youth movements
should have internal mechanisms to investigate charges of improper
 If the Orthodox community fails to respond internally then there is
ample halachic justification to go the the secular authorities.  When an
individual's actions are dangerous to many and the Jewish community is
incapable of controlling him there is no prohibition of mesira to go
state agencies and the police.
 Because this is an embarrassment, our leadership has been reluctant to
acknowledge the problem and it will take broad demand to create a
systemic process to reduce future suffering.
 Sincerely ,
(Rabbi) Yosef Blau


From: Anonymous
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2000 09:45:59 EST
Subject: Sexual Abuse

I would like to know what halachic recourse a person has against soemone
who abuses him/her or his/her child? Can the victim take the abuser to
beth din?  have there been prev casses that anyone knows about where the
victims have recovered damages? or where the abuser has gotten away with
it for lack of evidence? what sort of evidence does the beth din
require? is it not enough to swear in fornt of beth din that you will
tell the truth? If an accussed makes an oath to the beis din to tell the
truth and then lies what is the punishment? I have many more qusetions
but will leave it hear for now. Any comments?


From: Anonymous
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2000 17:00:10 +0200
Subject: Sexual Harassment in Israel

This was sent to me privately by someone on mail jewish with 
instructions to use it as needed. After Chana Luntz's email 
yesterday, I thought this person's perspective on the problem to be 
important, and I asked her permission to post it anonymously to 
mail jewish. She agreed, subject to one small editing change, 
provided that I also be an anonymous poster with respect to this 
letter. The writer lives in Israel. You 
may post this introduction 


I've never lived in the U.S. so I can only compare Israel to the U.K.  I
experienced SH [sexual harassment] in both countries- though different
in character.  I was a fairly attractive natural blonde and attracted
attention simply on that basis (it was certainly not my figure!- twiggy
without the curves), though I generally dressed in a rather tznius

The type of SH in England was less frequent than in Israel but uglier in
nature.  Here there is more of an inhibition against direct physical
contact.  I had lots of obvious signals but men very seldom touch or
grab at me here.  Signals of inavailability are also respected much more
here.  If a woman looks married she's pretty much left alone unless she
is foolish enough to give any signals herself. Eye contact can be
enough. Then she can expect immediate response on a verbal/language
level.  It's a cultural thing. Negiah in public places is respected by
almost all men in Jerusalem including Arabs (to a woman who looks frum),
Not so in England.  Wales is more moral, provincial, though the capital
city is still riskier than Jerusalem.  Only two men actually grabbed me
in public places here. One was from England- seemed to be a goy. The
other was Anglo- maybe American, but apparently frum.

A blonde sheitel, like real blonde hair- is a flag for attention here,
esp if it's pretty. Women should know this.  Attractive darker sheitels
also get some attention.  There is no question that snoods and tichels
are more modest.  When I was single I used to put my hair up in a
deliberately unstylish arrangement, minimizing it as much as possible.
Blonde is also associated with prostitution.  I'd like to point out that
I have never worn slit/tight skirts, sheer blouses etc etc and I rarely
wear make up- yet once I walked through Jaffa gate with my hair loose
some Arab actually made me an offer.  I was flabbergasted.  That's when
I seriously started minimizing my hair.  I would advise blonde women
anywhere in the middle East to wear a snood or dye their hair!  NEVER
wear it loose.  Also, don't wear a black top- it makes the hair stand
out even more.

(in college I was approached by some Iraqis.  When I turned them down
and continued talking to my friend, one of them came over to me and told
me, sounding very concerned, that the others were saying I was a
lesbian.)  Many middle easterners seem to expect response to their light
flirtation. If the woman isn't happy with it she's considered a cold
fish. If she's a single woman, she's automatically fair game.  From an
Arab's point of view (not all, but many), we're here for their pleasure.
An Israeli respects a woman much more, but many of them are very direct.
(One secular Israeli's first remark to me was "do you hold by 'lo
tinaf'? (he was married, I was not) When I made my principles clear he
didn't give one more signal but he became a great friend.

You can quote me as much as you like but without my name, this is
personal for me.

Using harassment as an excuse not to make aliyah is just that- an
excuse.  If someone of my sensitivity and vulnerability is not at all
put off by a bunch of harmless signals, propositions and proposals, this
in itself can give some answer to this silly objection.

Btw, I get the most respect from charedi men of most sources, and many
MO, and the LEAST from many New Yorkers of any denomination.
Yerushalmim are so busy avoiding contact with women that it sometimes
comes over as lack of respect - but it doesn't bother me anymore.  Kol

From: Naomi Kingsley <rogerk@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2000 07:30:50 +0200
Subject: Sexual Harassment in Israel

<From: Chana/Heather Luntz <Chana/<Heather@...>
 ..... Certainly my impression today is that the country is more
dangerous for a woman both in and out of work than Australia or England
(admittedly anecdotal, going on what has happened to me and my friends)

I and my daughters have never encountered any such incidents in Israel
(and my daughters think I am crazy for not letting them walk about alone
late at night), but I have personally experienced several incidents in
England (can't speak for Australia). I'm not denying harrassment exists
- it exists everywhere - but I don't want people to get the impression
that Israel is worse than other countries. My impression from anecdotal
evidence is that it is a LOT safer!

Naomi Kingsley

From: Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 14:47:04 +0200
Subject: Sexual Harassment in Israel

Chana Luntz writes:

> The point I am making is not that one should not go on aliyah, but I am
> concerned that people who do go on aliyah (or go for a visit!) should
> not make naive assumptions (as I confess I did) about the safety of the
> country for women.  Certainly my impression today is that the country is
> more dangerous for a woman both in and out of work than Australia or
> England (admittedly anecdotal, going on what has happened to me and my
> friends) - although I cannot speak for America, as the danger was always
> portrayed as so bad (NY and Boston), we were always too terrified to go
> anywhere on foot/public transport once dark fell (ie I wouldn't stand at
> a bus stop in America by myself in the early hours of the evening, so I
> have no idea on the proposition "rate" - whereas I have spent my life
> doing that in Australia and England, without ever having a problem).

I don't know about Australia, and I don't think I agree with you about
England, but my evidence there is purely anecdotal as well.  In any
event, I think that the point you make is a valid one - that one needs
to be careful in ANY urban area (at least) whether it is in Israel or
anyplace else. My reaction to the initial post was caused by the
(unproven) assertion that the sexual harassment rate in Israel is worse
than in the US. While it may have been little consolation to you at the
time, you should know that from everything I have heard (and again, this
is purely anecdotal), a married religious woman's hair covering
generally wards off all sorts of unwanted advances from secular Israelis
in the work place.

No, I would not advise women visiting here to walk through dark
alleyways or parks alone at night. There are criminals everywhere in the
world, and unfortunately Israel is no exception. And while I do allow my
own (16-year old) daughter to take the bus home at night (and have for
several years now), if it is late, she will always sit at the front of
the bus as a precaution. She also has an 11:00 P.M. curfew (an hour
before the bus stops running), and she knows she can call us to get her
if she is uncomfortable travelling alone for any reason.

In all fairness, I think that it is also important to point out that, at
least in Jerusalem, many of the sex crimes are committed by Arabs (who
are also present in the downtown area) and not by Jews R"L. There was a
seminary girl raped in Gan HaPaamon (Independence Park - across from the
LaRomme Hotel for those of you who know the city but not the names of
the parks, about 300- 500 meters from my office) a year or two ago. I
understand that the assailants in that incident were Arabs.

Carl M. Sherer
mailto:<cmsherer@...> or mailto:sherer@actcom.co.il
Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for my son, Baruch Yosef ben
Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.  Thank you very much.

From: David Weitz <weitzd@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2000 12:59:48 +0200
Subject: Sexual Harassment in Israel

Having made Aliyah from England 7 years ago and living in the Katamon
area of Jerusalem (the centre of the city's "singles scene" for Anglo
Saxon Dati olim), for most of that time, I can relate to Chana Luntz's
allegations, having heard similar stories from numerous single female
friends and acquaintances.

It seems to me that the crux of the matter is that here in the Middle
East the rules of the game are different. Shortly after my Aliyah I was
disturbed by the fact that many Israelis rarely smile and tend to have
rather dour expressions. I was informed that in the Middle East a smile
is often regarded as a sign of frivolity, and in the case of women, as a
"come on".

I agree entirely with those respondents who have stated that we should
not blame the victims. However, and regrettably, olot may have to adopt
the defences practiced by local women, in other words, in situations
where one may be propositioned, to walk away quickly and purposefully,
looking downwards and without making eye contact with the
harrasser. Also, it maybe necessary to abandon one's natural delicacy
and tell the harrasser where to get off in no uncertain terms -
unfortunately, displays of Western style politeness and friendliness are
not always respected by some Israelis.

Nevertheless, I should stress that my women friends and acquaintances
feel much safer here than they did in their native cities in the UK or
the USA.  I cannot imagine women walking alone down dark alleys after
dark in my native London, even in good areas such as Golders Green and
Hendon. Here, most women think nothing of it as mugging is virtually
unheard of. As for harrassment at the workplace and the army, recent
legislation should ensure that this should soon decline rapidly - one or
two well publicised cases should do the trick.

All I can say is that, as in every place in the world, one has to take
precautions. Just as in NYC or London one would not walk around with a
full wallet exposed, here in Jerusalem, one has to take the precautions
outlined above. At least here the harassment, unpleasant as it may be,
is generally verbal and not physical.

I hope that this goes some way to encouraging potential olot -
"forewarned is forearmed".

Kol Tuv

David Weitz


End of Volume 31 Issue 61