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Controversy in Israel over burqa-wearing ultra-Orthodox Jews
("AsiaNews," February 9, 2011)

Jerusalem, Israel - The movement was born six years ago, and now involves hundreds of women throughout Israel. They are the "Taliban Haredi" ultra-religious women who have decided to completely cover their bodies from head to toe, and like Muslim women wear the burqa. About six years ago a group of "haredi" women (literally: those who tremble at the word of God ") decided to start a battle against immodesty of Israeli women in their fashion choices, by covering themselves completely.

The aim was not to expose any part of their body to the sight of men, so as to encourage them to avoid sin. As explained by one of them: "I follow these rules of modesty to save men from themselves. A man who sees a woman's body parts is sexually aroused, and this might cause him to commit sin. Even if he doesn't actually sin physically, his impure thoughts are sin in themselves."

This initiative was received positively by many haredi circles and was even accompanied by an enthusiastic letter of support signed by Badatz rabbis, the ultra-Orthodox court of justice, and “Eda Haredit” leader Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss.

Now their growing number - about 600, with a constant stream of new recruits – is beginning to create problems. Also because some of these women do not uncover themselves even at home and are forcing their daughters to follow them in this fashion. So much so that the protests and warnings are multiplying: "You do not have to dress in strange ways, including veils, especially if your husband is against it, and also because it is against the Halacha (the law of conduct). And above all this fashion should not be applied in the case of young girls," write some rabbis.


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