The war against immodesty waged by haredi extremists escalated Thursday night as clothes deemed "immodest" were set ablaze in Shabbat Square.
The "clothes of impurity" were burned in a barrel in the center of the stage. Rabbis who spoke at the rally stood nearby admonished the crowd that congregated around the site.
Burning clothes to fix troubles of people of Israel (Photo: Dudi Vaaknin)
"We will get rid of the tight clothes and the Holy One, Blessed be He, will place his mercy on us," it was written on one of the signs held by the protestors. "Modesty is the only thing that needs to be corrected in our generation," the rabbis clarified, saying this would solve the troubles of today. "We must overcome this hurdle," they pleaded.
The clothes that were set on fire during the demonstration were collected by a haredi organization in the past few months in a door-to-door campaign held in haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem. During the campaign, clothes deemed "immodest" were collected. Women rose to the challenge. The organization handed out coupons for "authorized shops" to those who handed over "forbidden clothing" so that they can buy new clothes.
In an announcement published by the rabbis, they clearly define what is forbidden to wear:
- Tricot shirts
- Lycra shirts and skirts
- Open-collared shirts
- Short and tight skirts
- Skirts with a slit
- Skirts with a straight cut
- Long or bulky earrings
- Clothes and bags in loud, flashy colors
- Wigs that are too exclusive
- Transparent or colorful stockings
- Clunky shoes
The war against immodesty has recently descended into violence. Extremists attacked women with various sprays who were wearing clothes that didn't fit their criteria. Clothing stores in Jerusalem have also been hurt. One of the stores near the center of the city sustained an attack of bleach bottles. Tens of thousands of shekels of damage was caused to the merchandise.
Fear of the modesty guards is great in haredi neighborhoods. Yehudit, a haredi woman who works as a saleswoman in a clothing store in Geula said: "It is very scary, stressful, and unpleasant. A woman is wearing a skirt that cost NIS 200 (USD 50), and someone comes along and destroys it."
Yehudit defines herself as a "modern haredi," and claims that she and other women must not let "all of these protests affect us. It doesn't bother me at all." She also claims, "I haven't changed the clothes I wear. I haven't met one modern haredi woman who has purchased a new wardrobe or shorter wig because of the demonstrations."