Religion Magazine

Haredim Running Marathons

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
yesterday Beatie Deutsch's Facebook post was declared FSotD as she recapped her glorious run in the Jerusalem Marathon, in which she finished first in the category of Israeli women, setting a record for the Jerusalem Marathon course.
Deutsch wrote about her feelings and her unexpected success and attributed her fortune to the help of Hashem, etc.. one could see from her post that she is sincere and genuine and a fine person and is a God-fearing person.
Some of the news sites, especially the Haredi ones, reported on her win and in the process claimed her as Haredi. I dont know how she categorizes herself, if she even does at all, but I did not see her write about being Haredi or being anything else. Just her feelings about winning and thanking Hashem for carrying her. Maybe Beatie Deutsch is Haredi, maybe she isn't - I don't really care.
After the headlines blasted the news that a Haredi woman "won" the marathon and praised her for his success and her attitude in success, had to come the criticism. The criticism is expected and nothing unusual - a Haredi woman running outdoors? health and exercise is important, but in private, not out in public. Kol Kvuda Bas melech pnima. etc etc
Rabbi Nechemia Heilbrun (I dont know anything about him) wrote an op-ed in Kikar doing just that - criticizing the Haredi woman for running outdoors in a marathon, even though she wore long sleeves and a skirt and kept her hair covered. Heilbrun goes a little further and says that perhaps in some Orthodox communities in the USA this might be considered legitimate but that is not because of them being more "open" and accepting than the Haredi community of Israel but because of invalid western values that have seeped into the frum society there and are little by little seeping into society here as well.
I hope that Rabbi Heilbrun's criticism comes true and more of those values of the frum community of the USA seep into the frum community of Israel. We can use some more moderation and acceptance here in Israel.
Besides for that, his criticism of Deutsch only shows that all that is important is whether someone qualifies as being Haredi or not. None of the other thousands of runners were criticized by him, not even the many Haredi women who run regularly outdoors and not those that participated in the Jerusalem Marathon and received less publicity. Only the one some news sites dared call "Haredi".
I don't know if she is Haredi or not, but to me that seems to be the least important aspect of Beatie Deutsch's story. To other people it is the most important aspect. People can do everything right or everything wrong, and anywhere on the spectrum in between, but all that matters is if they are Haredi or not.
The horses have left the stable, Rabbi Heilbrun. Haredi men and women are going to work in Israeli society, they go to get academic degrees in ever-increasing numbers, they participate in marathons, bike rides, they go to shows and concerts, basketball and football games, and all sorts of other events... you can cry all you want about what constitutes qualifications for being called Haredi to the point where you find that in your eyes it will just be you and a few other people left. It makes no difference.
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