“The same group of Sikrikim has also targeted an ice cream store in the Geula neighborhood because they thought licking ice cream cones in public was immodest, Samuels said. Haredi media reported last year that Sikrikim in Beit Shemesh have targeted shoe stores in ultra- Orthodox neighborhoods that refuse to remove heeled shoes from their selection.”
I am reminded of the Nazi Brown Shirts and ‘The Day of the Broken Glass’ where the windows of Jewish shop owners were shattered.
Jon the Nazarite
Sicarii’ break windows, throw human excrement at stores they deem to promote immodesty, including bookstore popular with Anglo residents.
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.
Jerusalem police said they had only received one report of a violent incident from the bookstore that was filed on Sunday. Deputy police spokeswoman Shlomit Bajshi said that an investigation was opened into the incident but thus far there are no suspects.
She added the police had no other complaints filed about vandalism in the neighborhood attributed to the Sikrikim.
Bajshi denied the allegation by business-owners in the area that the police did not want to get involved in incidents in Mea Sha’arim because of the threat of violence to policemen or widespread rioting.
“We get involved with every incident that people report to us,” she said.
The same group of Sikrikim has also targeted an ice cream store in the Geula neighborhood because they thought licking ice cream cones in public was immodest, Samuels said. Haredi media reported last year that Sikrikim in Beit Shemesh have targeted shoe stores in ultra- Orthodox neighborhoods that refuse to remove heeled shoes from their selection.
Most businesses along Mea She’arim Street display a laminated sign on their doorways requesting that only modestly dressed customers enter their stores, one of the demands by the Sikrikim.
“They asked me to put it up, so I did,” said Shlomo, the owner of a nearby bookstore.
“I don’t look for problems, if I hadn’t put it up there could have been problems.”
The Feldheim Superstore, a large establishment near Or Hachaim that also has large English-language signs outside and many English books, said it negotiated an agreement with a member of the Sikrikim soon after opening a year ago. “We sat and talked with him, and there were a few books they had problems with from specific rabbis,” said an employee who requested anonymity. The store also displays the modesty sign at the entrance. “We came to an agreement, we respect them and they respect us,” he said.
“It’s like the Beduin [cartels] in Beersheba or the mafia in Tel Aviv… you need to deal with what there is, and this is the situation.”
He declined to say whether the store would continue to abide by requests from the Sikrikim if they made more demands about the store’s inventory.
Last Wednesday, the owners of Or Hachaim sat down with Sikrikim representatives to hear their demands, but decided not to accept them.
Two days later, on Friday afternoon 10 minutes before Shabbat, someone smashed all of the windows, sending the managers scrambling to find someone to guard the store over Shabbat.
Samuels said she knew of one storeowner in the area who had trouble with vandalism from Sikrikim in the past and hired someone to beat up the man who had been vandalizing the store, ending the problems. She said that she did not believe she and her partners would resort to this type of vigilante justice, but that they were increasingly discouraged by the inaction of the police.
The Sikrikim are the most extremist splinter sect associated with anti-Zionist haredim. They are estimated to be no larger than 60-100 people, but their influence and thug tactics reverberate throughout the neighborhood.
They are also related to the extremist group causing issues at the Orot Banot national-religious school in Beit Shemesh.
“They attack haredim in their own neighborhood,” said David Rotenberg, an employee at Or Hachaim. “If you’re not their type of haredim, they’ll attack you.”
The name “Sikrikim” comes from the Latin “Sicarii,” a term applied, in the decades immediately preceding the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, to an extremist splinter group of the Zealots who tried to expel the Romans and their partisans from Judea using concealed daggers.
Sicarii (Latin plural of Sicarius ‘dagger-men’ or later contract-killer, Hebrew סיקריקיס) is a term applied, in the decades immediately preceding the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, (probably) to an extremist splinter group of the Jewish Zealots, who attempted to expel the Romans and their partisans from Judea using concealed daggers (sicae).
1.1 Judas Iscariot
2 Modernity and comparisons
3 See also
“When Albinus reached the city of Jerusalem, he bent every effort and made every provision to ensure peace in the land by exterminating most of the Sicarii.”
—Josephus, Jewish Antiquities (xx.208)
The Sicarii used stealth tactics to obtain their objective. Under their cloaks they concealed sicae, or small daggers, from which they received their name. At popular assemblies, particularly during the pilgrimage to the Temple Mount, they stabbed their enemies (Romans or Roman sympathizers, Herodians, and wealthy Jews comfortable with Roman rule), lamenting ostentatiously after the deed to blend into the crowd to escape detection. Literally, Sicarii meant “dagger-men”.
The victims of the Sicarii included Jonathan the High Priest, though it is possible that his murder was orchestrated by the Roman governor Felix. Some of their murders were met with severe retaliation by the Romans on the entire Jewish population of the country. On some occasions, they could be bribed to spare their intended victims. Once, Josephus relates, after kidnapping the secretary of Eleazar, governor of the Temple precincts, they agreed to release him in exchange for the release of ten of their captured comrades.
At the beginning of the Jewish Revolt of 66 AD, the Sicarii, and (possibly) Zealot helpers (Josephus differentiated between the two but did not explain the main differences in depth), gained access to Jerusalem and committed a series of atrocities, in order to force the population to war. In one account, given in the Talmud, they destroyed the city’s food supply so that the people would be forced to fight against the Roman siege instead of negotiating peace. Their leaders, including Menahem ben Jair, Eleazar ben Ya’ir, and Simon Bar Giora, were important figures in the war, and Eleazar ben Ya’ir eventually succeeded in escaping the Roman onslaught. Together with a small group of followers, he made his way to the abandoned fortress of Masada where he continued his resistance to the Romans until 73 CE, when the Romans took the fortress and, according to Josephus, found that most of its defenders had committed suicide rather than surrender.
Masada, looking towards the Dead Sea.
In Josephus’ Jewish War (vii), after the fall of the Temple in 70 AD, the sicarii became the dominant revolutionary Jewish party, scattered abroad. Josephus particularly associates them with the mass suicide at Masada in 73 AD and to the subsequent refusal “to submit to the taxation census when Cyrenius was sent to Judea to make one” (Josephus) as part of their religious and political scheme as resistance fighters:
“Some of the faction of the Sicarion…not content with having saved themselves, again embarked on new revolutionary scheming, persuading those that received them there to assert their freedom, to esteem the Romans as no better than themselves and to look upon God as their only Lord and Master” (quoted by Eisenman, p 180).
 Judas Iscariot
In the name of Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, the epithet “Iscariot” is read by some scholars as a Hellenized transformation, by the simplest metathesis, of sicarius. The suffix “-ote” denotes membership or belonging to – in this case to the sicarii. This meaning is lost when the Greek Gospels are translated into modern Hebrew: the Hebrew meaning relates much more closely to the presumed Aramaic of the period which is the actual language in which Judas Iscariot had his name. In Hebrew, Judas is rendered as “Ish-Kerayot,” making him a Jew from the townships or ” … from the district”. “Judas” (like the Hebrew “Judah”) refers to Judean identity, either membership in the state of Judea of the Graeco-Roman period or the Jewish people more generally. Many scholars accept this meaning, pointing out that it indicates that Judas was from the start “the representative Jew” who betrayed Jesus in the Gospel dramatization of events, and we may not have in him an actual person or perhaps only do not know his actual name. It would have been odd to give a person a defamatory name (in the Greek or Latin Gospels) that was not in the native tongue Aramaic, when there were words in that tongue that could mean the same. However, Robert Eisenman (Eisenman p 179) is amongst those scholars today who persist in identifying him instead as “Judas the Sicarios”. He offers as justification that most of the consonants and vowels tally – in Josephus, Sicarioi/Sicariōn; in the New Testament Iscariot.