Orthodox NYC Jews protest proposed Israeli draft

NEW YORK — Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews filled the streets in lower Manhattan on Sunday to protest Israel’s proposal to draft strictly religious citizens into its army.

The gathering took up a stretch of 10 blocks, with dark-clothed demonstrators standing behind police barricades amid tight security. Organizers kept to tradition, with men and women in separate groups as they are at religious events.

Shmuel Gruis, 18, a rabbinical student from Phoenix studying at a Long Island yeshiva, was clutching two tomes of Jewish prayers as he hurried to the male section of the rally.

Of the Israeli Orthodox young men who would be affected by a mandatory draft, he said, “These kids, a lot of them don’t know how to hold a gun. They don’t know what physical warfare is.”

“Their whole world and their whole lifestyle is peace and love and in doing mitzvahs,” he said, using the Yiddish word for good deeds. “And you take a bunch of kids out of the environment where they come from — in my eyes, it’s wrong.”

Sunday’s prayer event brought together a community of New York’s most Orthodox Jews, based in Brooklyn and in the village of Kiryas Joel in Orange County, north of the city.

“We’re all united against military service for religious men in Israel because it doesn’t allow for religious learning,” said Peggy Blier, an interior designer from Brooklyn. “The Israeli government is looking to destroy religious society and make the country into a secular melting pot.”

More in Local News

A wobbly calf grows into a 1,800-pound Lake Stevens behemoth

A shaggy and sometimes cranky bison is the last of his herd. He lives amid encroaching suburbia.

Elderly couple escape serious injuries in crash with train

The driver drove down tracks instead of a road, hitting a slow-moving train near Stanwood.

Officials ID man shot and killed in apparent Everett robbery

Police believe the victim may have known the shooter, who drove away before the officers arrived.

Man, 60, in critical condition after Bothell crash

Police believe the driver may have been speeding when he hit a rock wall.

Missing Marysville woman found safe out of state

A Marysville senior who was reported missing in March has… Continue reading

FBI operation arrests 3 linked to exploitation of 32 women

The sting focused on Everett and other cities in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Skagit and Spokane counties.

Front Porch

EVENTS Seahawks event postponed A Toys for Tots Blue Friday fundraiser that… Continue reading

Volunteers clean up homeless camp infested with garbage

The organization’s founder used to live and do drugs in the same woods.

Fire crew returns early from wildfires in Northern California

Four Everett firefighters returned from battling California wildfires late Thursday… Continue reading

Most Read