Though I am acutely aware of polarization within the Jewish community, I was particularly distressed by Michele Chabin’s report on haredi extremists attacking schoolgirls because of their “immodest” dress (“In Beit Shemesh, Modesty Wars,” Dec. 30).
Beit Shemesh’s angry haredim merely illustrate the abysmal job Jewish religious leaders are doing. What does it say about our teachers and rabbis when an 8-year-old girl’s exposed collarbone — an example of sexualizing a child, if there ever was one — is a more gripping issue than the agonizing issue of agunot (women unable to divorce) or how to handle abuse within the Orthodox community or the clash of modernity and halacha?
Indeed, it appears these most zealous adherents to Torah wish to deal only with challenges to single-sentence injunctions. In this they are far from learned and far from observant. In the 60- plus years since the end of World War II, there has been a virtual explosion of yeshivot and Torah scholarship here and in Israel that is unprecedented.
Which begs the question, where is the religious leadership that should have emerged?