Friday, September 9, 2011

Manny's Book Store in Meah Shearim terrorized by Sikrikim


A bookstore in the capital’s ultra-Orthodox Mea She’arim neighborhood is struggling against a wave of attacks by a haredi group called Sikrikim (“Sicarii”) that other business-owners have called the “mafia of Mea Sha’arim.”

Since the bookstore, known as Or Hachaim/Manny’s, opened in March 2010, men have smashed its windows several times, glued its locks shut, thrown tar and fish oil, and dumped bags of human excrement inside.

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger was harassed and had stones thrown at him while leaving the store last year.

The bookstore, located on Mea She’arim Street, is popular with Anglo residents and tourists and carries many English- language holy books and Judaica items in addition to Hebrew books. The harassment stems from the bookstore’s refusal to accept demands made by the neighborhood extremist group, which would require all businesses to observe specific “modesty standards.”

At Or Hachaim, the Sikrikim’s demands include putting up a sign asking customers to dress modestly, removing all English-language books, signs and advertisements, and closing its website, which is in English, all so as not to attract tourists, who are not dressed modestly, said Marlene Samuels, one of the three managers of the bookstore, along with her husband, Manny, and Meir Dombey. Manny Samuels previously ran Manny’s Bookstore, which was well-known in the Anglo community.

“These people are very extreme; they terrorize lots of people here, and they are a very insular group,” Marlene Samuels said. She added that despite filing four complaints with the police and providing surveillance footage that clearly identified four of the men who have been vandalizing their shop, the police has not gotten involved.

“In the last few weeks, the police said they just don’t want to get involved in this neighborhood,” she said.


  1. “In the last few weeks, the police said they just don’t want to get involved in this neighborhood,” she said.

    Kol od ba levav . . .

  2. Rabbi / Dr David Hartman said that his ancestors were from the same group, and 100 years ago, they would attack and even throw their own filth at Rav Kook.

    They are a violent minority, but it is really a function of the radicalisation of Orthodoxy.

    When there is incitement and verbal hatred between mainstream sects, it is not long before a radical sect turns to physical violence. Sadly, several mainstream sects have their own internecine violence too.

  3. I don't believe this story in the least.

  4. JPost, for one.

  5. David Hartman has had his share of physical dust ups like the famous incident caught on tape at YU's beis medrash. With such yichus it could also explain his yeridah from Chaim Berlin to YU to Conservative apikorsis. I don't know if he has the gall to call himself orthodox. I can explain his involvement in the Conservative movement if anyone is skeptical.

  6. Vaisst men:

    I'm listening. Please explain. Thx

  7. In the 1980s when Hartman was getting his institute off the ground, he went on a North American tour to drum up support at large Conservative temples. His platform was to attack the orthodox from the bimah with such childish drivel that I am surprised even that crowd put up with it. He blitzed secular Jewish papers before his arrival with ads featuring a large headshot of himself with a very arrogant smirk on his face. The headline would be in oversize raised cap lettering "Rabbi Dr. David Hartman, in a major lecture" (I'm too disgusted to type it in raised caps myself).

    To sum up the "major lecture" in a nutshell, his exact words were that his "yeshiva" will produce "scholars" of immense stature that will "wipe the floor with Lakewood"

    That is an exact quote that was published in the Canadian Jewish News paper after an address at Beth Tzedek in Toronto.

    This is how he went about fundraising when most secular Jews have no clue that a great yeshiva even exists in Lakewood.

    Of course his okrei harim never materialized but not before Hartman scooped up whatever donations he could and then simply disappeared from this scene for 25 years. He resurfaced in the last couple of years, minus the anti-orthodox attacks, figuring almost no one remembers his Broadway worthy act from long ago. He also seems to prefer Reform temples these days in much more affluent settings like the NYC suburbs of Westchester County.

  8. And what was caught on videotape?

    Also, doesn't he live in Israel these days?

  9. The solution to this problem is 24-hour security guards with semi-automatic weapons. If a place is repeatedly vandalized, by people trying to impose their brand of Judaism on others by force, this is the right response. It should stop the attacks. Also, document using high-quality photographs the identities of the perpetrators (as the owner seems to have done), and if the police won't do anything, sue the police and the perpetrators (in secular court if necessary). Even if the lawsuits don't result in money damages, they will make the defendants' lives miserable for a while, which may serve as a deterrent.

  10. These "Sikrikim" are multiplying and attacking other neighborhoods also. The attacks against the Orot school in Bet Shemesh reeks of the same stench.
    "Either our way or the highway" - Is there anything to be done? Do residents just pay 'bribe money' for safety and security? Do you sign the paper and adhere to 'Ridiculous Rules and Regulations'? or put up a fight?

    Two thoughts on the subject: Follow the money trail....who is supporting this fanatics? who pays them a daily stipend to continue this harassment? Who are the rich Diaspora Donors encouraging these demos and attacks?
    More and more frum tourists, visitors and residents are avoiding Meah Shearim & Geulah areas and doing their food, sefarim, klei kodesh shopping in other parts of the capital. Who wants to get involved in these 'turf wars'? (Is this West Side Story in Jerusalem) When the economy in the neighborhood starts to falter,,change will happen. Mark my word.

  11. And what will they do with the "semi-automatic weapons". Open fire on the people jeering the girls with names?

  12. MO Kvetcher said...

    JPost, for one.

    the story has been carried by a number of different papers. I know Manny Samuels and his wife - they are honest straight peopled.

    There have been other incidents in Meah Shearim attacking stores for things like selling mp4 video players

  13. The YU story was before the age of camcorders but was captured on audio. Rav JB Soloveitchik said something in a shiur that happened to have R' Dovid Cohen of Flatbush in attendance as a visitor. R' Dovid Cohen really did not like something RJBS said and started loudly voicing protest. The wife of RJBS also happened to be listening from the ezras nashim where she uttered a cry for help for someone to physically throw RDC out of the room. David Hartman who knew RDC from Chaim Berlin and who has a similar broad build jumped up at her command to carry out the task. Until the RCA acted 2 years ago to dissolve their special beis din that RDC sat on, there were grumbles from the YU crowd for a long time that someone who protested at the shiur should not be allowed to serve with the RCA in any capacity. (The RCA moved to axe RDC for a completely different reason). Professor Marc Shapiro recently discovered something that sheds a whole new light on the incident with Hartman & RDC. RJBS said something in error Shapiro writes that would give RDC the right to protest if it was intentional.

  14. New York Giants at Washington RedskinsSeptember 9, 2011 at 9:16 AM

    Does not that go to the zechus od Rabbi Hartman defending rabbi Soloveitchik and shutting up David Cohen ?

  15. I thought the Sikrikim are an Israeli metalcore band

  16. RDC was in no position to attack/ humiliate RJBS. He may have been a marginal Rosh Yeshvia later on, but he was nothing of the stature of RJBS.

    Can you imagine what would have happened if the reverse occured. If someone like Hartman or some MO guy heckled R' AK, or R Shach?
    If this person was ejected by some Haredi strongman, he would be given Kovod by the entire Haredi world.
    Hence, this argument is not a compelling one.

    In any case, I simply retold the story, since the phenomenon of depraved violence is not a new one - rather than to make any judgments about Hartman, one way or the other. He has written a lot of books, and hasnt disappeared.

    Finally, I heard in a shiur given by R' Aaron Rakkeffet, that RJBS essentially disowned Hartman, saying "I don't know who he is anymore".

  17. Monday Morning QuarterbackSeptember 9, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    The RCA refused to directly acknowledge any complaints about Rabbi Cohen. They would not even address the YU incident. 5 years ago, Rabbi Cohen was the guest lecturer one Shabbos at a modern orthodox shul in Bergenfield NJ. According to many angry witnesses who called and wrote the RCA to protest, Rabbi Cohen encouraged tax evasion, citing sources he believed backed his position, and added if it ever gets reported he will deny having said so. The RCA was forced to go through the motions of oh we asked Rabbi Cohen and he denies it so case closed. Because the ruckus would not die down, but at the same time the RCA did not wish to show there was ever an issue, they waited 2 years after the NJ incident to close down the special beis din as a quiet way of getting rid of Rabbi Cohen.

    Did the RCA cover up? Very possibly. The RCA initially covered up for Baruch Lanner and that is proven fact. The RCA quietly dropped plans to expel Marc Schneier for his unorthodox practices in shul and committing adultery that was caught on videotape and publicized by major newspapers. One motive I can think of that the RCA would have for protecting Rabbi Cohen goes back a long way. Many YU-MTA students used to attend Camp Munk and had Rabbi Cohen as a rebbe there. Camp Munk decided one day to get a more yeshivish image and actually blacklisted, in effect expelled anyone from YU-MTA even if they had been coming to the camp for years. But the current RCA leadership is older and attended Munk before that happened.

  18. Kvetcher, what they will do with the weapons is protect the store. If they were unarmed, or only lightly armed, they could be overpowered by mobs.

  19. Vaisst men doch:

    Where does Prof. Marc Shapiro discuss that incident?

    As I understnad it, it was when RJBS dismissed the Chazon Ish in favor of the Israeli Rebbinate that RDC protested. And Hartmann, in the end, didn't touch RDC. Also, I think RDC was still a bochur or yungerman at the time.

    Why did the RCA act to axe the special Beis Din RDC was sitting on? (BTW, where does RDC fall hashkafically these days?)

  20. Yeshaya: And if they are being pushed by unarmed protesters, they will open fire? Otherwise what use is the weapons?

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  22. Rabbi Dovid Cohen speaking about the incident at the following link -- the story begins on minute 17 and R. Cohen begins speaking about his heckling of the Rav around minute 27

  23. Kvetcher, I would hope they would not have to open fire because the weapons would deter mob action. But weaponless guards are not going to be taken seriously. The guards would need weapons, if for no other reason than to protect themselves.

  24. Yeshaya: The point is it is impossible for them to open fire on unarmed protesters. So just having the weapons does little or nothing.


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