Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Do Not Give Them Any Money

I remember this incident. Back in 2008 an electronics store owner was beaten by some bearded long coated thugs in the Geula section of Jerusalem that borders Meah Shearim. What was his ‘crime’? He was selling forbidden electronics - like mp4 players. One of those thugs, Shmuel Veisfish, was sentenced to 2 years in prison last January. He appealed his sentenced to the high court in Israel. The Jerusalem Post reports that his appeal was denied. This is good news.

Mr. Veisfish is a member of a group known as Sikrikim. Sikrikim is a loosely transliterated form of the Latin word Sicarii. Here is the Wikipedia definition:

Sicarii (Latin plural of Sicarius 'dagger-men' or later contract-killer, Hebrew סיקריקיס) is a term applied, in the decades immediately preceding the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, (probably) to an extremist splinter group of the Jewish Zealots, who attempted to expel the Romans and their partisans from Judea using concealed daggers (sicae).

These people consider themselves zealots for their people and their ways. They see their extremist lifestyles as the only legitimate Jewish way to live. Others, no matter how religious they are seen as the enemy to one extent or another - to be eradicated by any means necessary.

I have long criticized the community that spawned these people for tolerating – if not approving of them. Not the least among them deserving criticism is their rabbinic leadership. They have done little more than verbally condemn them.

Now one of them is being sent to prison where he belongs. He will suffer the consequences of his actions as will his family. But he is not the only member of the Sikrikim. There are probably dozens if not hundreds more like him. And they have established Sicarri branches all over Israel.

One of the more prominent places they have done this is in suburban Ramat Bet Shemesh – B. As a result, there has been a continuous flow of violence against other Jews – religious or otherwise. To name just a few examples of their handiwork: Kosher restaurants have been torched; elderly religious women have been beaten on buses; religious teenager girls have been beaten on Friday nights as they passed through their neighborhoods; rocks have been thrown through car windshields as they passed through their neighborhood because they were flying Israeli flags...

In one case a couple of years ago a very Charedi man who had moved there from America because of the religious environment was beaten so badly that he had to be hospitalized. Why was he so badly beaten? Because he dared to challenge them publicly.

Most recently religious elementary school children were harassed and taunted by them because the municipality granted them the use of a school bordering on their neighborhood.

As I have said in the past, most of the residents there do not approve of the violence. But they do approve of the goals and I’m pretty sure they are happy when the desired results are achieved.

The question is, where do these Sikrikim get their financial support from? I am told that there are certain people in enclaves like Monsey and Williamsburg who actually support their ‘good works’ and donate money specifically to their cause. But I am equally certain that they often hide their true purpose and just go from shul to shul; house to house as Meshulachim - asking for donations without specifying exactly who they are or what they do.

As a public service I am posting a message that was forwarded to me by Mrs. Etana Hecht on behalf of Rabbi Dov Lipman. He is in the forefront of fighting these people. He is a resident of that area. And I consider him to be a hero for his courage and determination. More power to him. I urge people to heed the message. It follows:

There are 2 Sikrikim who left for America last week to raise funds. Their names are Avraham Hirschmann and Shalom Baruch Rosset. They have been directly linked to the violence in Bet Shemesh and Jerusalem.

Rosset's son is one of the guys who beat up a Gerrer Chassid last week, and has very high legal fees due to past violent incidences that he's trying to collect for. We're trying to get the word out to as many people as possible that if they end up in your neighborhood NOT to donate to them.

If you'd like to verify this further, or have more questions, please email Rabbi Lipman at

Thanks in advance for helping to protect the citizens of Jerusalem and Bet Shemesh.