I was pleased to read that many in the haredi community joined together with other fellow Jews in protesting the actions of extremists, who recently spit on, cursed and terrorized an 8-year-old girl for failing to live up to their own modesty standards (“In Beit Shemesh, Modesty Wars,” Dec. 30). This clearly demonstrates that most haredim deplore the actions that have occurred.
However, it unfortunately underscores another problem: the culture of fear that has enveloped the fervently Orthodox community. This is not the first kind of incident like this that has occurred in Beit Shemesh. It is only the first incident that has garnered such widespread media attention.
Until now, rabbis and leaders in the haredi community have preferred to look the other way and ignore such incidents. Members of the haredi community have been fearful of expressing their real opinions about these matters — for fear of what it might do to their own standing in their community. It is indeed a shame that it had to take such a massive chillul Hashem (desecration of God’s name) to finally convince the haredi population to publicly speak out and air their feelings about what is happening in their community. Hopefully, it will be the beginning of some much needed and meaningful change.