Thousands of ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel have started covering their faces with black veils to avoid looking at "indecently" clad women, according to news reports.
In the past couple of days, thousands of fundamentalist Jews launched a campaign under the title “Protecting the Eyes” in a synagogue at the city of Bnei Brak, east of Tel Aviv, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported Tuesday.
“This by far exceeds the fundamentalism of the Taliban in Afghanistan,” wrote the paper.
Campaign organizers distributed flyers calling upon Jews to cover their faces in order to keep their eyes chaste and avoid committing sins by looking at women.
“This is an amazing experience,” read the flyer. “You have to cover your eyes voluntarily.”
The idea of covering the face started as part of preparations for the pilgrimage to the grave of nineteenth century rabbi Nachman of Breslov in the Ukrainian city of Uman and which is annually visited by 15,000-20,000 Jews.
However, the campaign was extended to all Jews and face covers are now promoted as the best way to avoid looking at indecent women who wear clothes that do not abide by the teachings of Orthodox Judaism.
Around 9,000 Jews left Monday from Tel Aviv airport heading towards Ukraine. More than 50 planes were full to the brim with passengers covering their faces. The total number of Israeli pilgrims this year is expected to reach 18,000.
Before his death, rabbi Nachman of Breslov, who founded the Breslov Hasidic dynasty and is credited for the revival of the Hasidic movement, told his followers that they have to be with him on Rosh Hashanah, commonly known as the Jewish New Year.
Since the rabbi’s death in 1810, the annual pilgrimage called the Rosh Hashana kibbutz has been attracting thousands of Hasidim from all over the world.
(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)