From Israel, a terrific flash mob of women dancing in Jerusalem’s Beit Shemesh neighborhood. Beit Shemesh has been in the public eye recently after the press picked up the story of girls at an Orthodox religious school being harassed, spat on, and called “prostitutes” by neighborhood men from the radical ultra-Orthodox Sikari community who thought their long-sleeved, long-skirted uniforms were immodest. The Sikarim—their name means “knife men”—are so fanatical that they have been labeled the “Jewish Taliban.” Recently thousands of people protested in Beit Shemesh in what’s come to be called the “modesty wars” over the Sikarim’s continuing harassment of women and efforts to outlaw them singing or dancing in public and walking on certain public streets.
In response, a group of women danced in the public square of Beit Shemesh. The organizer wrote:
On Friday, Jan 6th, 2012, a group of 250 women from Bet Shemesh decided to raise their voices against the exclusion of women from the public domain by holding a mass public dance in the city square. The women, residents of the city from all ages and sectors, religious, traditional and secular, gathered together in a flashmob dance, in the city square and started dancing towards a change.
If you look closely, you can see quite a few of the dancing women are in traditional Orthodox dress (long skirts and sleeves with black tights and head coverings). I particularly like the comment on the YouTube page that “each of these women has more beauty and holiness than the entire Sikarii community.” I bet that Freddie Mercury, of blessed memory, would be thrilled they’re dancing to his music.