BEIT SHEMESH, Israel — The latest battleground in Israel’s struggle over
religious extremism covers little more than a square mile of this
Jewish city situated between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and it has the
unexpected public face of a blond, bespectacled second-grade girl.
She is Naama Margolese, 8, the daughter of American immigrants who are observant modern Orthodox Jews. An Israeli weekend television program told the story of how Naama had become terrified of walking to her elementary school here after ultra-Orthodox men spit on her, insulted her and called her a prostitute because her modest dress did not adhere exactly to their more rigorous dress code.
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