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Hebrew education can be expensive

Being Jewish is as much a cultural matter and a way of life as a religious practice. In some places some Jewish people — particularly Ultra-Orthodox men — can be recognized by their dress and head coverings. In most places though Jews are largely assimilated into their surrounding culture and are often not recognizable by dress or daily observances. Among the elements of Jewish life that non-Jews (Gentiles) are most likely to aware are kosher food, wedding rituals, and bar mitzvah for boys and bat mitzvah for girls. [Source:]

Jacob Kat wrote in the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences: Religious precepts in Judaism are traditionally divided into prohibitions and positive commandments. The first represents a system of religious taboos or restrictions which lend to Jewish life the air of restraint but not of outright ascetic character. They limit gratification but do not seek to suppress it. Dietary laws prescribe the exclusion of some (“unclean”) animals from the Jewish menu and dictate the manner of preparation of certain foods — the slaughtering and salting of meat and the separation of milk and meat products, for example. Within these limits the partaking of food is limited only by the general injunction against gluttony. As against the days of fast, there are festivals on which the enjoyment of a meal is a religious duty. All sexual or even erotic contact outside marriage is proscribed, and marriage is prescribed, preferably at an early age. Within marriage, sexual intercourse is limited by an additional period of purification after the cessation of menstruation. Yet sexual intercourse is not limited to the purpose of propagation but includes the mutual satisfaction of man and woman. [Source: Jacob Kat, International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences,]

The execution of religious rites is part of the fulfillment of the positive commandments. Prayer, preferably together with the community, must be recited three times a day. The Pentateuch is read during the Sabbath and festival services, and on festivals special rites are also performed. On the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth), for example, originally a harvest festival, the worshiper is required to hold four kinds of plants during the services. On the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) the ram’s horn (shofar) is sounded. The special rites of Passover, such as the partaking of unleavened bread (matzah) and the narration of the exodus from Egypt, take place within the family. Special significance is attributed to the rite of circumcision, since it initiates the eight-day-old male child into the covenant of Israel. Although devoid of any special rite, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) with its full-day fast and prayers occupies a special place in the Jewish religious calendar, for it is dedicated to repentance which, if genuine, is, according to the rabbinic outlook, capable of atoning for sins. The periodic unity of the community in prayer and ritual has been a major factor in social cohesion, while the family is similarly strengthened by being the locus of the religious performance.

Positive as well as negative commandments are obligatory on males above the age of 13 and females above the age of 12. Women are exempted from some of the positive commandments, as they are also excluded from the study of the law beyond an acquaintance with the precepts necessary for religious practice. Women are not participants in the religious community, nor do they take active part in the communal rites, although they may attend such services, seated in sections apart from the men. They may, however, acquire religious merit by fulfilling the special duties connected with the Jewish home and by aiding their husbands and sons in the fulfillment of religious obligations, especially the study of the law.

kosher microwaves: blue for milk products and red for meat

The fulfillment of religious precepts, both positive and negative, is the basic means of religious justification (in the Weberian sense) in Rabbinic Judaism. The degree of piety is established by the conscientiousness and exactitude of religious observance — the time and effort lavished upon an observance to give it an aesthetic character above and beyond its technical requirements and the intensity and devotion with which the commandment is actually performed.

In addition to being attached to religious duties in the strict sense of the word, religious merit is attributed to communal good works. Communal works are highly esteemed, as is every aid to those in need, such as extending hospitality to strangers, visiting the sick, and, above all, attending the dying and eulogizing and burying the dead. Correct behavior in business relations and abstention from deceptive speech and practices are also religiously valued. In places where the letter of the law conflicts with equity, the individual is admonished to forgo his legal rights. Thus moral behavior also becomes a source of religious justification.

Websites and Resources: Virtual Jewish Library ; Judaism101 ; ; Chabad,org ; BBC - Religion: Judaism ; Encyclopædia Britannica,; Yivo Institute of Jewish Research ; Jewish History: Jewish History Timeline Jewish History Resource Center ; Center for Jewish History ; Jewish ; Internet Jewish History Sourcebook

Un-Kosher Internet

Edmund Sanders wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis initially labeled the Internet as the biggest threat yet to Judaism, likening it to eating pork and calling it "1,000 times worse" than TV. As the technology spread, rabbis softened their stance and by 2005 allowed limited Internet use for work purposes only. Now, as the Internet permeates most aspects of life, from banking to registering children at school, more Haredi families have no choice but to go online. About one-third admit to having Internet access at home, though the actual figure is believed to be about 50 percent.” [Source: Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2010 ***] “Creating a truly kosher Internet is no easy task, partly because of the unreliability of commercial filters. Already, frustrated Haredi youth are asking websites such as, "How Do I Get Around Kosher Net?" At the same time, Haredi rabbis remain deeply divided on what kosher Internet should look like, who should have access and which websites should be blocked. "So far they haven't been able to find a clear line, as they have with cellphones," said Mordecai Plaut, an Orthodox rabbi who operates an English-language Haredi website. "They are still trying to figure out a way to throw out the bathwater and keep the baby." ***

“For example, pornography isn't the only thing that upsets some rabbis. They've also expressed concern about websites that espouse other faiths, such as Christianity or Islam. They worry Haredim will waste too much time surfing trivial news and entertainment sites, and not spend enough time in religious reflection. Access to the Internet has also exposed Haredim, who traditionally have taken their direction only from rabbis, to alternate opinions. "It's also about control," said one ultra-Orthodox Internet professional who didn't want to be identified criticizing rabbis. ***

“Software engineer Yaniv Sharon, a Haredi father of five from Rehovot, has tried all the providers, but says none offer the right balance of protection from inappropriate images and access to websites he needs for his Web-design business. So Sharon is braving the Internet alone, even though he's worried about even inadvertent exposure to pictures of women. "Just viewing such a picture damages the soul," he said. "I put my hand up and scroll the page down." He's been advised to hang a picture of his rabbi on the computer to keep him focused. "It's a constant battle, though."” ***

Koogle, Yideotube and the Kosher Internet

With more ultra-Orthodox Jews going online and the Internet becoming a fixture of everyday life, several Internet providers in Israel have developed customized products for the ultra-Orthodox community, combining filters, web-blocking software and dedicated servers that allow them to avoid inadvertently viewing offensive content. Reporting from Bnei Berek, Israel, Edmund Sanders wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “From a drab office in this ultra-Orthodox Jewish stronghold, three devout young women hunch over computers and surf the Internet — looking for pornography, celebrity gossip and a laundry list of other items banned by their rabbis. It's odd work for this trio, dressed modestly and wearing wigs in keeping with their beliefs. But it's their job at Israel's first ultra-Orthodox Internet provider, Nativ, as it tries to launch a product that could transform the traditionally sheltered community: kosher Internet. [Source: Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2010 ***]

“Because racy images of women are the most common offensive content found, the company decided it would be less objectionable to hire women to scour the Internet so ultra-Orthodox customers can surf without worry. Lea Bernat, 22, a former kindergarten teacher, clicks through hundreds of web pages a day, using specialized software to open links and disable problematic content. "If it's clean, we release it," she said. "If it's really unclean, we tell the customer that the site isn't approved." But is it kosher? That's the question facing many ultra-Orthodox as they move online and are greeted by a fast-growing industry seeking to cater to their special needs, even though no one agrees yet exactly what a kosher Internet should look like. ***

“There's Koogle, a Google-inspired searchable directory of kosher businesses offering, say, bargains on "modest" wedding dresses. Many rabbis frown on YouTube, so Yideotube offers a "daily online source of carefully screened videos," ranging from spoofs of anti-war activists to tips for buying a ceremonial kittel robe. Worried about violating prohibitions against working on the Sabbath? Software vendor SaturdayGuard sells technology that enables websites to block access for Internet users, depending upon their time zone, between Friday and Saturday night. ***

“There's even an online support group,, specializing in helping Orthodox Jews break "lust addictions" arising from Internet access. In addition to the usual 12-step programs and daily "strengthening" e-mails, the group offers tips for curtailing inappropriate surfing, including using software that automatically sends lists of visited websites to your spouse or rabbi. Modern technology has long been viewed by many ultra-Orthodox rabbis as incompatible with a spiritual life. Television is banned and only "kosher" cellphones, which carry rabbinical stamps and have disabled Web browsing and text messaging, are accepted in ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, communities here. ***

“With an outright ban on the Internet no longer feasible, ultra-Orthodox rabbis are realizing that their only option is to create a kosher variety. "The overwhelming majority understand that if you can't fight it, join it," said Avi Greenzeig, believed to be Israel's first "kashrut monitor" — similar to those who inspect kosher restaurants. He was hired by rabbis to edit and censor one of Israel's most popular Haredi websites, Behadrei Haredim. "People can live without television, but the Internet is different," Greenzeig said. "It's impossible to tell people to go back to the caves. Technology is moving forward and people must move with it. But there are limits." ***

“From the website's nondescript Jerusalem office, where there is no sign on the door and writers use pseudonyms because of the stigma of working for an Internet company, Greenzeig reviews every article and reader comment before it's posted online. Greenzeig, only 24 and working at his first job, is younger than the writers and editors. But as the official eyes of the rabbis, he carries considerable clout because he's regularly in touch with the religious leaders. A piece about a rabbi accused of sexually harassing male students? Greenzeig spiked it. He also killed a review of a band that performs for mixed audiences of men and women. Because the website workers are also Haredi, there's never a problem with profanity or inappropriate pictures, but Greenzeig says he often edits reader comments when they are disrespectful or criticize rabbinical decisions. ***

Samsung kosher smartphones

Nativ, which employs the female Web monitors, offers Internet service to about 20,000 ultra-Orthodox customers. The company, based in Bnei Berek just outside Tel Aviv, adheres to strict religious guidelines, employing only Haredi workers and taking instructions from rabbis. Deputy chief executive Yechiel Twersky is dressed in a 19th century black suit with hat and sidelocks, yet has the very 21st century habit of checking his Blackberry while holding conversations. Twersky installs "unhackable" programs on customers' computers to ensure that all Internet access goes through Nativ. The standard service offers about 2,200 websites, mostly government agencies and Haredi businesses. All forms of social media, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, are blocked, as are Google images. Customers who want access to anything else, such as a journalist who wants to read a particular news site or a doctor who needs a medical research page, must provide a letter from his or her rabbi. Then the female monitors inspect the site.” ***

Samsung and Apple Introduce 'Kosher' Smartphones

Apple and Samsung have introduced kosher smart phones. After Samsing introduced its version, Niv Elis and Jeremy Sharon wrote in the Jerusalem Post, “Samsung, in association with Israeli company Askan, debuted a “kosher” smartphone for ultra-Orthodox users. Askan, which specializes in “kosher technologies,” programmed the phone with Internet filters that are designed to keep out objectionable content. In the ultra-Orthodox community, Internet providers offer similar filters suited to their customers’ demands. “We chose Asken as a partner because the company helps the haredi society, which wants to make use of smart mobile devices, and gain access to our advanced instruments in complete conformity with their lifestyle,” said Guy Hibash, director of Samsung Israel’s enterprise division. [Source: Niv Elis, Jeremy Sharon, Jerusalem Post,June 1, 2016 |/]

“Their specialized operating system, built on Samsung’s Knox Customization software, will run on a variety of Samsung phones, including those in the Galaxy S6 and S7 series, and the A5 and J1 models. The new Samsung device has been approved by Rabbi Tzvi Braverman, a respected haredi rabbinical judge from Beitar Illit, who has also developed and approved a home and business Internet filter for the ultra-Orthodox community. However, the new smartphone has not been endorsed by the rabbinical court of Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, which is the most senior and respected body providing oversight for smartphone usage in the non-hassidic haredi community, as well as for some hassidic groups. “There have been two approaches to the issue of smartphones among the leading haredi rabbis,” said Yisroel Cohen, a reporter for the Kikar Hashabbat haredi news site. “The first approach has been to prohibit all smartphones, including even the filtered devices, arguing that if you allow, for instance, haredi businessmen the use of such phones you will open the door eventually to yeshiva students, and thousands of people will end up using them.” |/

“The other perspective, said Cohen, “has been to authorize the use of limited smartphones for those who need them because the situation right now is that haredi businessmen and others are using iPhones and other devices without any protection at all. “More and more rabbis understand now that there is a need to allow for the use of a protected smartphone, and as a result of that we’re seeing, many more people on the street are using such devices.” |/

“Still, news of a kosher smartphone may be particularly welcome among those in the community who are trying to enter the workforce, and land high-paying jobs in hi-tech. Cohen explained that some haredim who have taken programming courses find themselves limited when they cannot take the mobile phones that they are working on home with them.” |/

High Cost of Jewish Living

Jack Wertheimer wrote in Commentary Magazine: “Adding things up, an actively engaged Jewish family that keeps kosher and sends its three school-age children to the most intensive Jewish educational institutions can expect to spend somewhere between $50,000 and $110,000 a year at minimum just to live a Jewish life... The high cost of Jewish living is evident even from so mundane an item as the grocery bill. Families observing the dietary laws must expect to pay a premium for kosher food. Poultry slaughtered according to Jewish ritual law costs 50 to 100 percent more than its nonkosher equivalent, and when it comes to beef, prices rise by many multiples. Monitoring the spending of an observant family in Houston, a recent CNN report noted the high kosher price differential. Among the anecdotes: a brisket purchased at a kosher store was over seven times more expensive than the same cut of beef at the nearest nonkosher supermarket. Even canned and bottled items sold at many supermarkets can cost several-fold more if they bear a kosher certification on their label. Prices routinely surge around the Jewish holidays, with no time more costly than Passover, an eight-day holiday that can set observant Jews back by many hundreds if not thousands of dollars owing to the numerous dietary practices. [Source: Jack Wertheimer,, March 1, 2010 ^|^]

“Then there are membership fees. Synagogue dues can range from a few hundred dollars to well over $3,000 for the purposes of supporting a staff of professionals and maintaining physical facilities. (Some synagogues set the “suggested dues” for families earning more than $250,000 at $6,000 a year.) In addition, they impose a range of payments to help defray expenses for special programs, school tuition, and building funds. When all was said and done, the Jewish family in Houston featured on CNN expended $3,600 a year at its synagogue, which happens to be Orthodox—the Jewish subgrouping that tends to charge the lowest congregational dues. To this we might add a hidden cost: more traditionally observant Jews must live in easy walking distance of a synagogue because they will not drive on the Sabbath and holidays, precisely the days they are most likely to attend religious services. In a Jewish variation of the first law of real estate—location, location, location—the values of homes near synagogues tend to be more expensive.^|^

“Jews often join a local Jewish Community Center where they can partake of cultural and educational programs, arts activities, recreational facilities, and create for themselves and their children a social bond with other Jews. Membership fees covering all these activities can run between $1,000 and $2,500 for a family. Above and beyond these essentials for Jewish living are contributions in support of charities. Close to home, the local federation of Jewish philanthropy and Jewish educational institutions require support; on the national level, funding is needed by agencies that engage in everything from advocacy to collecting funds for Israeli institutions, sponsoring Jewish religious and cultural life, and aiding Jews abroad. The family monitored by CNN donated $5,000 a year to various charitable causes. ^|^

“By far the greatest costs for many families are incurred from Jewish education. A considerable minority of families now enrolls its children in the three most expensive forms of Jewish education: day schools meeting five or even six days a week, usually for seven to 10 hours a day; residential summer camps, which run sessions lasting from three to seven or eight weeks; and extended programs in Israel for a summer, semester, or year. Schools with well-appointed facilities and an enriched educational program matched by a panoply of extracurricular activities can cost about as much as prep school—more than $30,000 a year per student. Schools housed in bare facilities with only a limited number of classes devoted to general studies—which cater primarily to the most insular Orthodox—may charge only a few thousand dollars a year. But most day schools charge somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000 a year for each child. Residential summer camps can cost between $650 to more than $800 a week. And trips to Israel range from $7,000 to $9,000 for a summer, to $18,000 for 10 months at a religious school, and even more for programs in which students can earn college credit.” ^|^

High Cost of Being Jewish

Bar mitzvah training can also set one back

Sarah Moessinger wrote in Kveller, “I know this subject brings out strong emotions within the Jewish community, so I’m hesitant to write about the high cost of being Jewish. But I have a unique perspective on the matter—I can see the costs of Jewish life both through the lens of being financially well-off, and where I am now since my divorce—much less well-off. My feelings crystallized this year during the High Holidays—where the “good” seats in the sanctuary are sold to full dues paying members for $150/seat. Where the aliyot to open the Ark, bless the Torah, and carry the Torah are auctioned off every year (although this year some were quite affordable, starting at $36; others started at $500). The Book of Honors lists whom the different aliyot is honoring and who paid for that honor. Even the choice parking spots in our small parking lot are a fund-raising opportunity—full dues paying congregants can buy a spot for $150 and have it reserved with their name on it. To be fair, the synagogue adds additional handicapped parking and also opens up a big field on the property for parking. [Source: Sarah Moessinger, Kveller, November 9, 2015 ^=^]

“Synagogue dues have received a lot of attention recently as some synagogues move to a dues-free model, opening the door to conversations about how dues should be structured, or even if there needs to be a formal dues structure at all. I think for the time being, most synagogues will stick with formal dues, although I’m lucky that my synagogue also has “single parent” dues. ^=^

“But raising children Jewishly and living Jewishly does cost a lot of money. My kids, Hannah and Daniel, attended Jewish preschools wherever we’ve lived. This was a big luxury for me, as my husband at the time traveled extensively for work so the mornings the kids were in preschool were a very welcome break for me. I knew then and know now that the kids were lucky to be able to attend. ^=^

“They’ve also attended day camp at the local JCC and Jewish overnight camp. Hannah is on the board of our USY chapter, so I just paid $300 for her to go to the fall convention (and yes, she’s super excited to go). I know that financial aid is available for camp, youth group, and even for preschool. But I have to ask for it, and that means sharing tax returns, pay stubs, and the finances of my divorce, all of which are deeply personal. I’m also partially disabled, so I am unable to work full-time, which always raises a few eyebrows. I have to explain to overnight camps that my local Federation does not have aid for overnight camp, and no, there are no extended family members that would be willing to help defray the costs. Trust me, these are not easy conversations to have. ^=^

“The bar and bat mitzvah—a joyful milestone when it’s reached—can be very costly. There’s the cost of Hebrew School and then the additional cost of the tutors. Both kids’ tutors were worth every penny, but it was money that I could hardly afford to let go of, especially in the middle of my divorce when my bank accounts were essentially frozen until the finances were sorted out. And then you have to pay for the Friday night Oneg and Saturday afternoon Kiddush, traditionally paid for by the family of the bar/bat mitzvah child. ^=^

“And the list keeps growing. While Hannah and David are currently in a private secular school due to a very generous financial aid package that makes it possible for them to go, other families pay $18,000-$20,000/year per child for Jewish day school.

Why Do Jewish Parents Spend So Much Money on Education

and so too can the bar mitzvah party

Jack Wertheimer wrote in Commentary Magazine: “Why do parents spend these sums of money? For the same reason so many American parents expend staggering sums on college tuition: they believe they are getting value for their dollar. Immersive Jewish education may not provide the same kind of material payoff as a college diploma, but it greatly increases the chances of children learning the skills necessary for participation in religious life, living active Jewish lives, and identifying strongly with other Jews. Day-school tuition is the cost many parents believe they must bear if their children are to retain their heritage in a society that exerts enormous assimilatory pressures. [Source: Jack Wertheimer,, March 1, 2010 ^|^]

“They are right. It takes time and considerable effort to transmit a strong identification with the Jewish religion and people; to nurture a facility in the different registers of the Hebrew language: biblical, rabbinic, and modern; to teach young Jews the classical texts of their civilization; to expose them to Jewish music, dance, and art; and to socialize them to live as Jews—all the while providing a first-rate general education. Ample research has limned the association between the number of “contact hours” young people spend in Jewish educational settings and their later levels of engagement. Simply put, “more” makes a significant difference. It is not hard to find adult alumni of day schools, summer camps, and Israel programs who attest to the formative impact of their experiences. Not surprisingly, many parents committed to Jewish life want their children to enjoy the same benefits. ^|^

“Families recognize that they can no longer rely upon institutions that once had been central to the socialization of young Jews: most Jewish parents have neither the time nor, in many cases, the knowledge to transmit Jewish learning to their children; extended families are now widely dispersed, so they cannot play an active role; and few Jews reside any longer in densely populated Jewish neighborhoods, where in years past Jewish mores and customs were internalized through osmosis. Thus, conclude Carmel and Barry Chiswick, two authorities on the economics of Jewish life, “the formation of Jewish human capital must rely on a system of Jewish education.”“ ^|^

Israel's “Vigilante Police” Target Jewish-Arab Couples

According to reports in the Israeli press: A special team in the youth department of the Petah Tikva municipality will locate [Jewish] girls in the habit of meeting with men from minorities and will assist them … 'The problem of minority men is well-known,' said the chief of the youth department, Moshe Spektor. 'Our attempts to deal with this problem are real and sincere. The municipality is making an effort to examine the matter in co-operation with the police'. Of course, the minority singled out here is is the Arab community, not Jewish minorities in Israel such as those from Ethiopia, Russia or South America.

Seth Freedman wrote in The Guardian, “Whilst the proliferation of ultra-orthodox "vigilante police" is a stain on Israeli society, their Taliban-esque actions can at least be contextualised as the inevitable consequence of religious fundamentalism gone wild. Such communities are dominated by leaders who refuse to accommodate any form of modernisation or freedom of thought into their archaic systems of governance, and the emergence of "modesty squads" is simply a manifestation of such primitive and patriarchal thinking. [Source: Seth Freedman, The Guardian, September 29, 2009 *]

members of the far-right Lehava organization

“Regardless of the reasons behind their appearance, the groups should not be tolerated by Israel's leaders, as they contravene the most basic human rights of the state's citizens. Israeli lawmakers have a duty to clamp down hard on the mobs' extrajudicial activities, in order to prevent a localised problem spreading from isolated religious strongholds into the rest of the country's towns and cities. *\

“Yet the ultra-orthodox enforcers have good reason to challenge any efforts to rein in their sheriff's posses, given that the example set by several Israeli municipalities implies that what is sauce for the religious goose is sauce for the secular gander. While the local authorities in Petah Tikva, Kiryat Gat and elsewhere aren't sanctioning all-out violence against girls deemed behaving inappropriately, their modus operandi is no different in intent – and the targets of their self-righteous rage no more deserving of punishment – than the girls in Meah Shearim opting out of the ultra-restrictive dress code. *\

“The programme enjoys the support of the municipality and the police, and is headed by Kiryat Gat's welfare representative, who goes to schools to warn girls of the "exploitative Arabs". The programme uses a video entitled "Sleeping with the Enemy," which features a local police officer and a woman from the Anti-Assimilation Department, a wing of the religious organisation Yad L'ahim, which works to prevent Jewish girls from dating Muslim men. Many Jews in Israel and the diaspora frown upon the idea of their children marrying out of the flock, some even going as far as cutting their children out of their wills and mourning them as though they had died should they take a non-Jewish partner for a spouse. While this is by no means restricted to the Jewish faith, the idea of such proscriptions being incorporated at state level – whether against Jews, Muslims or any other category of "undesirables" – is racism reminiscent of the dark days of segregationist America and pre-enlightened European states.” *\

Israel's Vigilante Police in Action: Catching Arab Boyfriends

Sheer Frenkel wrote in The Times, “It’s past 10pm, but work has just begun for the group of vigilantes in a small white hatchback patrolling the streets of Pisgat Ze’ev — a Jewish settlement on the outskirts of east Jerusalem. As the car crawls through the nearly empty streets, the men peer out at couples. They say they are experts at spotting those that don’t “match”. “Stop, right there. Stop the car. Is he an Arab? That dark guy . . . If they are both Jewish, keep the car moving!” yells out ‘David’, a 31-year-old Jewish settler who does not use his real name. [Source: Sheer Frenkel, The Times, October 2009 -]

“For more than a decade, David has considered it his unofficial job to patrol the streets looking for mixed Arab-Jewish couples. “We are protecting the Jewish people, our traditions, our heritage. Some people just get mixed up. We talk to them, explain why it’s important for Jews to be with Jews,” he said. His group, which works with police, goes by several names, including Fire for Judaism, is composed of up to 45 men and funded by private donations. Members say they are fighting a “growing epidemic” of Arab-Jewish dating and spend as many hours as they can on patrol. Similar groups have formed across the country, including in the southern Negev city of Beersheba, and northern port of Haifa. In Petah Tikva, a blue-collar city in the centre of Israel, the municipality has formed a unit to discourage Arab-Jewish relationships. -

“In Pisgat Ze’ev, the growing number of Arab-Jewish couples is seen as the result of more Jewish settlements in Arab east Jerusalem. The problem is always with Jewish girls dating Arab men. The Arab guy comes and buys them things, treats them well. They fall for it. They can’t see what they are doing,” says David. Sarah, who asked not to use her real name, said it is men like David who are the problem, not her Arab boyfriend, Zadar. “I’m not stupid, or gullible or looking for trouble. I’m a Jewish girl who happened to meet a guy I like, who happens to be Arab. It’s my business. We have to go other places to go on dates, places where these guys won’t find us,” she said.-

“In Petah Tikva, municipal workers said they only sought out under-age Arab-Jewish couples when asked to intervene by parents. “This is not a racist thing. Statistically, these girls wind up in trouble. We try to step in before real harm can be done by talking to the teens, making social workers available to them. We never use force,” a spokesman said. David says that he too, will not use force but on a recent night out, it became clear that he was prepared to do just about anything else. At the start of his patrol he caught sight of a “known problem couple”. It was a young woman, stepping into a vehicle that he said was full of Arab men. -

“A car chase ensued through the windy mountain roads before the vehicle got away. David took down a licence plate number and called in the incident to the police. “I am doing this for her own good. She doesn’t know what she is getting into. It’s not like these guys are offering her a future.”“ -

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Internet Jewish History Sourcebook “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); “Old Testament Life and Literature” by Gerald A. Larue, New International Version (NIV) of The Bible,; Wikipedia, National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, and various books and other publications.

Last updated March 2024

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