In Israel, a modesty patrol (Hebrew: משמרת צניעות; also modesty guard, modesty squad, chastity squad) is the name given to vigilante gangs which act to enforce a code of modesty among the Haredi public through violence and intimidation.
Such groups are said to operate in several predominantly Haredi communities in Israel. Alleged members of modesty patrols have been arrested by the Israel Police, and at least one has been sentenced to prison for assault. Within the Haredi public, both support for and opposition to modesty patrols has been reported. According to Haaretz, some violent incidents attributed to modesty patrols may be linked to the Committee for Preserving Our Camp's Purity, a Haredi organization in Jerusalem headed by Rabbi Yitzhak Meir Shpernovitz. Shpernovitz himself has stated that modesty patrols are a journalistic myth and do not exist. During the trial of Nechemya Weberman in New York, on charges of child abuse, media sources reported on the communal role played by chasidic “modesty committees” in communities like Williamsburg, Borough Park and Kiryas Joel. These groups were said to have originated years previously, and were set up to guard the “purity” of the community by enforcing strict dress and behavior codes that characterize the insular chasidic lifestyle. But, according to The Jewish Week, 'insiders say, the tactics of these self-appointed, freelance modesty patrols have evolved from public shaming to extortion and threats.'
Incidents attributed to modesty patrols
- In June 2008, a modesty patrol in Beitar Illit was suspected of spilling acid on a teenage girl for wearing trousers.
- In August 2008, the Israel State Prosecutor's office indicted seven men, allegedly from a Jerusalem modesty squad, for beating a woman and threatening her with death regarding her relationships with men. The ringleader was charged with conspiracy to commit a crime, aggravated assault, and extortion. In the same month, a man said to be a member of a chastity squad was arrested for alleged involvement in the torching of a store selling MP4 players.
- In February 2012, a 70-year-old haredi woman was attacked and beaten in her home by a Modesty Patrol who suspected her of being a Christian missionary.
- VIDEO / Ultra-Orthodox 'Modesty Guard' suspected of beating Jerusalem woman, Haaretz 07-08-2008
- Haredim riot in Jerusalem, JTA 26-08-2008
- Etgar Lefkovits, 'Modesty patrol' mercenary gets 4 years, Jerusalem Post 16-03-2009
- Neta Sela, Jerusalem: Orthodox riot in protest of chastity squad arrest, Ynet News 26-08-2008
- Neta Sela, Haredi crusade against immodest clothing goes up in flames Ynet News 26-01-2007
- Yair Ettinger, Police believe they've exposed Haredi modesty patrol, Haaretz 01-09-2008
- Winston, Hella (6 December 2012). "Trial Exposes Shadowy Chasidic 'Modesty Committees'". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
- Neta Sela, 'Modesty patrol' suspected of spilling acid on teenage girl, Ynet News 05-06-2008
- 'Modesty patrol' suspected of spilling acid on teenage girl, Israel Today 08-06-2008
- Aviad Glickman, Woman beat, threatened by 'modesty squad', Ynet News 14-08-2008
- Doron, Yaron (2012-02-29). "'Modesty Patrol lynched me'". ynet news. Israel Jewish Scene. Retrieved 28 September 2012.