Edah Haredit won't organize protests against gay parade

Rabbis don't want young yeshiva men exposed to "negative sexual influences."

haredi riots 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
haredi riots 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Edah Haredit, an umbrella rabbinical organization that brings together some of the capital's most zealous haredim, will refrain from organizing demonstrations against the gay pride march slated for June 26. In previous years the Edah spearheaded efforts to block the annual parade organized by the Jerusalem Open House. These demonstrations often deteriorated into fisticuffs between haredim and police, the burning of garbage bins and the blocking of roads. However, this year a strategic decision was taken by the rabbis of the Edah Haredit not to call the faithful to the streets. "We reached the conclusion that it would be better off not getting involved," said Shmuel Poppenheim, an activist of the Edah Haredit. "We are not telling people not to demonstrate, but we are also not telling anyone to demonstrate, either. There will always be a few weirdos who will demonstrate no matter what. But we will not be responsible for them." Asked the reason for the change in policy, Poppenheim said that unlike the previous march in June 2007, which drew participants from many countries, this year's parade was local in nature. "It is not worth it to bring that filth into our houses, to involve yeshiva students in demonstrations against that depravity." Poppenheim was commenting on the dilemma faces by rabbinical leaders in the haredi community. These leaders believe it is important to do everything in their power to stop the parades from taking place. Nevertheless, they are concerned that by allowing young yeshiva men to get involved they are exposing their impressionable personalities to "negative" sexual influences. This year, explained Poppenheim, the rabbis decided that the spiritual dangers of battling the parade outweighed the benefit of stopping the parade, which will not pass through haredi neighborhoods.