Modesty Patrols In Jerusalem

JERUSALEM — In Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where the rule of law sometimes takes a back seat to the rule of God, zealots are on a campaign to stamp out behavior they consider unchaste. They hurl stones at women for such "sins" as wearing a red blouse, and attack stores selling devices that can access the Internet.

In recent weeks, self-styled "modesty patrols" have been accused of breaking into the apartment of a Jerusalem woman and beating her for allegedly consorting with men. They have torched a store that sells MP4 players, fearing devout Jews would use them to download pornography.

"These breaches of purity and modesty endanger our community," said 38-year-old Elchanan Blau, defending the bearded, black-robed zealots. "If it takes fire to get them to stop, then so be it."

Fred emails:

Your picture of Luke’s book XXX-communicated reminds me. It turns out that Jews do not have a doctrine of excommunication. However, the Jewish community in Amsterdam was so irate at the writings of Spinoza that they went ahead and communicated him anyway.

I think we can all agree that it is no coincidence that Luke and Spinoza were both, effectively, excommunicated. I, for one, have no doubt that five centuries from now, Luke will hold the same stature that Spinoza holds today.

I can only hope that members of this advisory group will warrant at least a footnote in the history books that will expound upon Luke’s unique contribution to the humanities.

Khunrum emails: “You mean you guys are stuck with him? Oy! “double” Vey. Wait til Rabbi Muskin hears this.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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