In today's selection -- the Haredim, a community of ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel, is now 10 percent of its population. As the New York Times recently reported. "Israel has been consumed in recent months with the challenge of integrating the insular, swelling ultra-Orthodox minority, known as Haredim, into society. ... The low number of ultra-Orthodox men with jobs ... [has] a dire effect on the economy in terms of productivity, taxes and the drain caused by welfare payments. Because of Orthodox men's commitment to full-time Torah study and a fear of assimilation, only a little more than 4 in 10 of them work, less than half the rate of other Jewish men in Israel, and their average salaries are 57 percent of other Jewish men in the country. Nearly 60 percent of Haredi families live in poverty, and by 2050 they are expected to make up more than a quarter of Israel's population":

"The Hebrew word haredi means, literally, 'fear and trembling.' In today's Israel, it refers to ultra-Orthodox Jews, whose dour dress and fervid quaking before God hearken to bygone centuries and distant lands where their ancestors lived during two millennia of Diaspora. To the alarm of non-haredi Jews, the Western Wall [in Jerusalem] has been effectively usurped and converted into a haredi synagogue. On Shabbat, tens of thousands of bowing, trembling, rejoicing, chanting, praising, praying black-frocked men in broad-rimmed hats and ritual fringes engulf it, save for a small fenced section reserved for women -- that is, for women who dare approach it. Females who insist on a Jewish woman's right to don prayer shawls and phylacteries -- or the ultimate haredi horror: to actually touch and read from a Torah scroll -- may be spat upon by haredi men, who have flung chairs at the brazen blasphemers, and be called whores by screaming rabbis who try to drown out their Sabbath songs.

"Women, extremist haredim believe, should be home readying the Shabbat meal for their pious men and their burgeoning families. Although still a minority, Israel's haredim are relentlessly bent on changing that status. Their simple tactic: procreation. Haredi families average nearly seven children, and frequently hit double digits. Their multiplying offspring are considered both the solution to modern Jews, who defile their religion, and as the best defense against Palestinians, who threaten to outproliferate Jews in their historic homeland.

Read the rest here.


Once again, introduces me to a facet of religious society which I had no idea about - the determination of fundamentalist Jews to force their hand in Israel by sheer dint of numbers.  I was well aware that the Muslims of the Middle East were interested in growing their numbers, but the equal resolve of these haredi Jews had not crossed my radar until this article.

I don't suppose the irresponsibility of such action has occurred to either group, from a sociological or ecological standpoint.  In the case of the Jews, my guess would be that they're following the prescription of Yahweh:

Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
-- Genesis 1:28

Can't help but notice that Yahweh didn't say anything about what to do when the Earth started having problems supporting all these fruitful humans.  Apparently to this point, Israel's social safety net has been tasked with the load to this point. Doubtless, the Haredim think that the lord will provide.

Nice fantasy. It'd be nicer if it actually obtained.

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What a bunch of narcissists. They dont seem to care sbout anyone except themselves. It mskes no more sense than if a group of people dcided they were descended from Klingons or Vulcans and had to luve by their rules and everyone else be damned.

all of those groups of people who want to reproduce like lemmings. So irresponsible and selfish.

Not to mention that they're effectively living off of the Israeli state.  So they're irresponsible, selfish and parasitic!

Glad you mentioned that, Loren!

It also doesn't help that Israel's coalition governments have long depended on haredi legislators!

Hiddush is an Israeli group (headed by a rabbi, and with a good web presence in English as well as Hebrew) working for equality and for freedom of and from religion. (Their name could be translated "Renewal", and it's an acronym for "For Religious Freedom and Equality".) Like the ACLU, they advocate for the rights of the religious as well as the irreligious, while working to end the "unholy alliance" between religion and politics.

The ACLU defending the rights of majority and minority religious believers:

The list's introduction mentions that over half the actions "were brought on behalf of self-identified Christians". (Perhaps the "self-identified" caveat is to counter objections of "How dare you call [Catholics / Mormons / Protestants / Unitarian Christians / fill-in-the-blank] 'Christians'?" often gets such hate mail, btw.)

'Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
-- Genesis 1:28'

In my opinion, this one sentence holds the filthiest, most disgusting, de-humanizing, and destructive words strung together I know of. It represents evil incarnate and any who believe in those sentiments participate in the destruction of the Earth. Nothing in those few words offers good physical, mental or emotional health, it has no responsible indicator of work that maintains an individual, family, or community. It doesn't require compassion or commitment to a bigger picture. Not one word of thinking, reasoning, exploring, or experimenting exists. This sentence represents all the cruelty, barbarity, incivility, preposterousness and irresponsible thought ever conceived.

May the believers of this nonsense rot in their own filth.

Spoken straight from your heart, Joan! And also from mine.

Worse than that, Joan: it fails to give any consideration to the consequences of those actions.  Those consequences are social, in the interaction between Jews and non-Jews who share the same planet.  They are economic, reflected by the fiscal demands associated with such a pogrom (and I use that term quite purposefully).  They are political, because others may have a different vision, and the conflicts between those visions can be most unfortunate.  Finally, they are environmental, because the Earth is not limitless in its ability to sustain unchecked growth.

This is the same kind of unsophisticated, juvenile thinking the bible is rife with, full of dogma and dictate, but lacking the kind of understanding which would anticipate the untoward products of such actions as are being demanded here.  I'd say that they should become adults and put away childish thinking ... but I doubt they'd hear such words.

No, the big story in Israel is the ongoing plagiarism of the religious to take credit for the achievements of Atheists. Thomas Paine, an Atheist, was the greatest pamphleteer during the American revolution. Denis Diderot and fellow Atheists at Holbach's salon were the most influential writers and thinkers of the Enlightenment. Atheists, such as David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dyan and Golda Meir created the miracle of changing an under populated wasteland of deserts and malarial swamps into a thriving , modern democracy. 

Time and time again Atheists are at the forefront of human progress, usually opposed by religious authorities. There is a wilful exclusion of giving Atheists credit for the contributions made to human progress. This exclusion distorts history making the progress appear to be the achievement of religions. The big story is the enormous achievements of Atheists who have contributed so much to the progress of freedom and knowledge. This is probably more true in Israel than any other country on Earth.




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