It’s open season on the haredim again. But why shouldn’t it be? How can anyone in their right mind not hate a bunch of medieval, draft-dodging, parasitical fanatics, right?
As a self described harediya — that’s female for haredi — someone who actually joined this much-maligned group, I find a great deal to admire. Here’s a short list. Feel free to add to it.
1. The haredim take the continuity crisis seriously. Everyone else talks about it, but haredim do the only logical thing — they produce lots of Jews (with Hashem’s, help of course). The average haredi household has eight kids. Many families have more.
By the way, I don’t think it’s outrageous to grant draft and national service exemptions to people who are willing to spend 10 to15 years pregnant (women) or experiencing their spouses’ pregnancies, morning sickness, exhaustion, hospitalization etc and the ensuing Everest of dirty diapers.
Let’s beef up the grant to families, so kids don’t have to go to sleep hungry. And let’s cheer on the Haredim, the demographic corps of the Jewish nation for saving us from extinction.
2. Haredim are Israeli society’s leading humanitarians. Yad Sarah, Yad Eliezer, Zaka, Ezer Miziyon, Hatzala, andChai Lifeline are all haredi initiatives and they serve everyone. Yad Sarah even has branches in Arab neighborhoods and Druse villages.
3. Haredim are the most literate group in Israeli society. Go into any haredi living room. Instead of a plasma screen TV you’ll find a shelf full of books — not Ken Follett thrillers either (those are in the bathroom).
4. Haredim are the guardians of our classical culture. What is Jewish culture — the oeuvre of Sacha Baron Cohen and Etgar Keret or Rashi and the Rambam?
The haredim ply open the classical texts of our people and study them — an excellent workout for the brain and soul. What’s not to like about that?
5. Haredim respect the elderly. In haredi society old age rocks. Look at our leaders, nontegenarians and older. Haredim still believe that older means wiser. In our youth culture, that’s not something to sneer at.
6. Haredim look out for society’s weakest links. Haredim don’t abort their Down Syndrome babies. They see them as elevated souls and care for them with great love..
7. If a haredi asks you for money in a dark alley, chances are it will be for a donation. If you don’t donate the worst you will get will be a dirty look..
Of all the groups in Israeli society, haredim have the lowest proportion of prison inmates and almost no violent crime.
8. Haredim are the last bastion of family values. Father, mother, brother, sister, etc all living together is the norm
The haredi divorce rate is minimal. Kids are raised by two parents and the father is an active partner. Walk through any haredi neighborhood and you’ll find men pushing baby carriages and escorting kids to school and play.
9. At any given moment of the day, thousands of haredim are praying for you. The haredim pray for all Jews, including the secular ones, even for Jews who hate haredim. Open a siddur. You’ll see that Hebrew prayers are in plural. They are uttered for the benefit of all.
Ever wonder why so many thousands of missiles happened to land in open fields? Those prayers create a spiritual force field that’s guarding us all.
10. Haredim are us. Look through your family album. Thumb back through the generations and you’ll find Bobba and Zeyda or their parents. Anyone who identifies as a Jew today has haredi ancestry. It doesn’t make any sense to hate your own DNA.