Jerusalem – The secularists in Jerusalem are a scared species these days, fearful for their future in the city. Even a chareidi just passing through their neighborhood fills them with suspicion, foreboding and despair.
At least, that’s the conclusion that can be drawn after some residents expressed their shock upon finding a pink advertising flyer in their mailbox urging women to dress more modestly and to use the local mikvah. The campaign was followed up with home visits by religious women to explain the concept of tznius.
A. and R. are a young secular couple living in the neighborhood who married a few months ago. Two weeks ago, R. was alone in the house when unexpected chareidi women knocked on her door and asked to come in.
R. relates, “At first they asked me to join classes on Judaism in Kiryat Yovel, and I politely refused. Afterwards, they began to ask personal questions. They asked if I was married and if I go to the mikvah. They wanted me to know there was a mikvah close to our home and that I should go there.”
Stunned at this attempt to invade her home and life, R. wouldn’t let the visitors come in. She was given a pink flyer explaining the principles of tznius. As they parted, her uncalled visitors amiably added that the “the rav asked to dress more modestly, with longer sleeves and untight clothes.”
The pink flyer, which was titled “Daughter of the King”, was distributed to many homes during the home visits made by the callers. The flyer adheres women, “Honor yourself by covering yourself. Tznius will give you peace of mind. Remember that you are a daughter of the king, a princess. Princesses don’t roam the streets… tznius is highly praiseworthy and one should try to fulfill it to the utmost.”
On the second part of the flyer is a prayer to the Master of the Universe to help a woman achieve her desire to be modest. “Help me be a kosher, modest and truthful woman as You desire.”
The thousands of flyers in fact were produced in Tsefas. A chareidi woman called Esther has written up the flyers and is distributing them. She mentioned that she printed 3 different kinds of flyers — one for all Jewish women, another one in peach for married women and a lavender one which also brings relevant halachos. She explains, “I am doing this l’shem shomayim to bring merit to Jewish women.”
Several days ago, A. and R. received another visit, but this time A. was in the house. “I learned my lesson and this time I opened the door dressed in underwear,” says A. cynically. “They immediately left.”
After laughing at their reaction, he says seriously, “We got married several months ago and deliberately chose to live here. As it is, my wife does not dress provocatively. But we live with the feeling that we are under observation — imagine, people come to our home and tell us how to dress!” He says he doesn’t know if there is any future for him in the neighborhood or anywhere in Jerusalem.
Another resident of Bet Hakerem, M., claims that for a long time already, “Things are changing in the neighborhood. It’s obvious to all of us that within a few years, there won’t be many chilonim here. The proof is the chareidi realtors which are buzzing around everywhere, as well as the religious families that buy second hand houses after a mikvah or shul was built.”