A rabbis' committee in Beit Shemesh distributed over the weekend a detailed booklet instructing female residents to dress modestly in the city's ultra-Orthodox areas. In the pamphlets, women are ordered to keep their hair tied and their shirts buttoned up to the very end and to wear long sleeves.
The "chastity squad" pamphlets were distributed in mailboxes in the city's religious and secular neighborhoods. They start off with some rhetorical questions: "You don't want to hurt people, right? You're a considerate person, right?"
Next, the booklets elaborate on the demands for a modest appearance: "Your neck must not show from all sides. On the front – from where the rib bones start; the shoulders – from where the neck slope begins; on the back – from the first bone of the scruff." Each instruction is accompanied by a drawing.
Additional instructions state that the shirt must be wide, long and nontransparent; the sleeves must be long enough so as "not to reveal the elbow in any form or movement"; and the skirt must be long, wide and without a slit.
The rabbis explain in the booklet that "entering a haredi neighborhood obligates us (from a moral aspect) to be considerate of the place's nature and not to hurt the residents' feelings, and to be seen in modest clothing only.
"A modest garment covers every place in need of covering. In addition, it conceals the body's shape. Thus, a tight shirt and a narrow skirt or trousers are considered immodest."
Another page in the booklet includes a "prayer of a Jewish girl", and states that "your modest and dignified clothing shows that you acknowledge the fact that you are the daughter of a king. The modest clothing honors the woman and raises her value. There is so much to regret and to be ashamed of when a daughter's king looks cheap and like a prostitute."
'Bored people looking for action'
Shalom Lerner, chairman of the religious Beyachad faction at the Beit Shemesh Municipality, was one of the residents who found the booklet in their mailbox.
"These are extreme people who must be really bored and unemployed during the summer, and are looking for some action like in Jerusalem. The normal haredim in the city don't support them, and when I showed it to them they said, 'They're harassing us as well with this nonsense.'
"Up to now they would hand out written pamphlets or something printed at home, but now they've invested money in a colorful booklet. They must really be bored," he added.
The Religious Zionism representative at the City Council clarified that the religious and secular public was "adamant not to let them go wild and take over", and promised to bring in reinforcement from the outside.
"We are making progress by building a new hesder yeshiva in Beit Shemesh and absorbing new families," he said. "In the summer we are expecting the arrival of 100 families of new immigrants from the United States."