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October 30, 2014 / 6 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘shabbat’

Tel Aviv to Open Groceries, Kiosks on Shabbat, Holidays

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Groceries and kiosks will be allowed to open on Shabbat and holidays according to an amendment approved by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa (Yafo) city government on Monday.

Before the law reaches final passage, however, it must still win the approval of Israel’s Interior Ministry.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai has advocated for passage of the law, which he maintains would allow the city to “keep the Tel Aviv spirit, one that cares for the Shabbat as the day of rest, as a social value in the Jewish State, and also allows for the provision of services and the freedom for everyone to use this day of rest as they wish.”

But city council member Rabbi Naftali Lubert, a member of the Orthodox Jewish community, slammed the statement at a stormy hearing on the matter in city hall. “This is a black day,” he said, warning, “What is about to be carried out is a violation of the law against working and resting hours. And for what? To buy beer?”

The issue also touches upon the problem of employers pressuring Jewish employees to work on the Sabbath – and denying jobs altogether to those who are Sabbath observant.  Such discrimination is illegal in the Jewish State, albeit still perpetrated though rarely discussed.  There may be fears the law could increase the incidence of employer discrimination against Sabbath observant job seekers in the White City.

Tel Aviv Mayor: Opening Shops on Shabbat ‘Won’t Disturb Anyone’

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

A change in the Tel Aviv law that would allow stores to open on the Sabbath “will not disturb anyone,” Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai stated in an open and written reply to Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former Chief Rabbi of Israel.

The rabbi said that the proposed permission for stores to open on the day of rest would desecrate the sanctity of the Sabbath.

Mayor Huldai claimed that only one percent of businesses in the city will be able to open on Sabbath and will be in areas where operation won’t bother anyone.

There are flaws in Mayor Huldai’s reasoning. He assumes that Jews in secular neighborhoods will not be disturbed by stores opening on the Sabbath.

He is dead wrong. There are no statistics, but it is safe to say that a sizeable number of “secular” Jews respect and love the sanctity of the Sabbath, even if they don’t observe it.

Moreover, the “one percent” of stores that he says would open on Shabbat, if allowed, is only the beginning. Competitors will be forced to follow suit.

Pro-secular activists always argue that preventing stores from opening on the Sabbath is “religious coercion,” a phrase that always brings out the catcalls for “freedom” from religious influence on the law.

There are laws that prevent business in certain neighborhoods form operating in the middle of the night, but “social coercion” is legitimate.

There are laws that prevent businesses, and residents, from making too much noise, but “environmental coercion” is permissible.

Any law restricts the freedom of some people, and that is allowed, but the secular fundamentalists cannot tolerate the thought of Judaism being an influence on laws in a Jewish state, for the simple reason they do not wan’t a Jewish state.

Hay want a state where Jews can live and practice their religion as they wish, son ,long as the their prayers in synagogues do not disturb the neighbors and so long as not too many people clog the sidewalk when walking back and forth to synagogue on the Sabbath, and so long as the Orthodox Jews don’t dare take affront at parades of homosexuals.

The anti-Orthodox activists don’t admit that they are practicing secular coercion.

Shomron Hosting Gaza Border Refugees for Shabbat

Friday, March 14th, 2014

The Shomron Council is gearing up to host Israeli who live along the Gaza border and have been under massive rocket fire these past few days, offering them a Shabbat respite.

Residents of the Shomron who wish to host a family from Israel’s battered south this Shabbat, can call: 1700-700-0106.

Shabbat Saved a Jew from the Malaysia Airlines Death Flight

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

(JTA) The popular travel discount blog Dan’s Deals is circulating a story that a Jewish passenger who was supposed to be on the missing Malaysia Airlines plane was switched to an alternative flight because his Orthodox Jewish travel agent in Israel refused to book him on an itinerary that would have him traveling on Shabbat.

Under Orthodox Jewish law, facilitating someone else’s Sabbath desecration — boarding an airplane — is as forbidden as desecrating the Sabbath oneself.

Here’s the email exchange on January 13 and 14 between the passenger, identified as Andy, and the travel agent. The emails were posted online by Dan’s Deals with the identifying details removed.

Andy: One amendment, I need the KUL-PEK flight a day later. I need the extra day in Kuala. once that is set you can lock in.
Travel Agent: I wish I can give you a day later, but you know I just don’t like flying Jews on Shabbat. I can take that leg out if you want and you book yourself.

Andy decides to book the flight himself but later changes his mind:

Andy: I reconsidered, you are right I should be more observant, I’ll manage without that day in Kuala. Since I’ll have an extra night in PEK Any recommendations for a good Friday night dinner in Beijing?
Agent: Ok, glad to hear. Try this: http://www.chabadbeijing.com/

Then, on March 8, Andy writes:

Holy God,
You sure heard what happened to MH370
I cannot stop thinking about this.
This is a true miracle for the books. You are a true life saver…
I cannot think anymore! We’ll talk later this week. Don’t know how to thank you enough
(See the full email exchange here.)

When I tried to verify the authenticity of the story with Daniel Eleff of Dan’s Deals, he sent me this message:

At this time the travel agent and the passenger are opting to remain anonymous. There has been a fair amount of negative feedback and they are choosing to wait until the fate of the flight in known to determine if they’ll go public.
I have personally verified the story and can vouch for its authenticity. The emails I posted with time stamps are unaltered except to remove identifiable information.

Court to Rule If Jerusalem’s ’Cinema City’ Can Violate the Sabbath

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Jerusalem’s $75 million, 19-theatre Cinema City opened on Tuesday, but the Supreme Court will decide next month if it can operate on the Sabbath, in violation of both Jewish law and the “status quo” that maintains an equilibrium and unstable peace between observant and non-observant Jews in the capital.

Multi-screen theatres are common in Israel, but not in Jerusalem. The new eight-floor complex, located across the street from the same court building that will decide its fate on the Sabbath, includes 50 cafes and shops and is expected to see up to 15 million visitors in its first year of operation.

The last thing Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat needs is another reason for riots from the Haredi community, which already has enough fuel for a city-wide blaze of anger over the idea of a military draft for all Jews, including yeshiva students. The argument over the compulsory draft for all conveniently does not focus on Arabs. That is another story by itself but illustrates how Israeli politicians manage to ride the rails of populism.

Mayor Barkat has taken the safe road on the issue of Shabbat. During last year’s mayoral election race, he said the complex should remain closed on the Day of Rest. He now emphasizes that the decision is up to the court. Given the financial income to the city by thousands of tourists spending money on movies and restaurants on the Sabbath, Barkat’s heart might be in the wallet and not in the Torah.

The municipality has stated that the agreement between Cinema City’s developers and the Finance Ministry stipulated that the movie complex will not operate on the Sabbath since it is located on government property.

City Council member Merav Cohen insists that Barkat can change the terms of the agreement if he wants to and that it is not dependent on the Finance Ministry.

Deputy Mayor Yossi Deutsch claims that most of the city council opposes a Shabbat opening for the theatre complex. Whether or not a majority really wants it closed because of religious reasons or out of respect for the Orthodox community, they certainly would prefer Jerusalem get attention from other areas instead of Haredi riots.

The fact is that when the Jerusalem City Council decided four years ago that Cinema City would be closed on the Sabbath, only three members at the meeting objected.

National religious Rabbi Yaakov Medan of Gush Etzion has written that the cinema complex should be open for secular Israelis, with restrictions against restaurants and other commercial establishments being open. He said that Jerusalem needs secular residents, who should not feel they have to live elsewhere to avoid restrictions due to the Sabbath.

The argument is an old one. Is it religious coercion to close down movie theatres on Shabbat? Is it secular coercion to allow them to open? Does it ruin the religious character of the city, if not Israel, by allowing them to operate?

Those are interesting social, theological and philosophical questions, but the more immediate question might be if the court will take into consideration the physical safety of citizens if it allows Cinema City to open its doors and if riots follow.

Everything in Israel comes down to politics. The Haredim correctly feel they are being marginalized, although the change is long overdue. The government has cut funds for yeshivas, it wants Haredi youth to serve in the army just like everyone else – except secular draft dodgers about whom no one seems to write.

The Haredi establishment has managed to hold on to the Chief Rabbinate, but its powers are being undermined with a belated reform of kosher supervision that is aimed at  eliminating corruption and making sure that “kosher” really is ”kosher” and not just a stamp on a certificate in return for money in the pocket.

Shabbat

Friday, February 21st, 2014

I have always valued the utilitarian aspect of Judaism, even though utilitarianism in itself is hardly justification for living a religious life. Circumcision may indeed help reduce the risk of certain kinds of diseases. So might refraining from sex at certain times. But those are not the reasons most of us adhere to these laws.

The strict Shabbat of Judaism is the most relevant of all our rituals in the world in which we now live. Difficult, I concede, but immensely rewarding. The value in taking a break from constant cell phone rings, texts, and messages that apparently cannot wait for one minute, let alone 24 hours, has actually dehumanized us. Otherwise intelligent hominids have to check their screens as they walk, eat, and converse, as if their lives depend on them. The endless Tweets, Facebook likes, LinkedIn requests, Skype calls, WhatsApp, and Viber messages constantly nag and distract us. Having a day in which one does not have to deal with all of this must make enormous sense for our sanity and indeed our freedom.

Not being able to drive ensures that families members have to stay in easy reach of each other. They will sit together around a table several times to eat, converse, and perhaps sing and study. It requires one to read books rather than screens, to hold, to touch, to feel the print. Instead of the ubiquitous Muzak of electronic sounds and sights, the all-pervasive screens and games, we can free our senses to the sounds of nature and our own brains. We are forced out of the mundane, into another world. Not entirely cut off of course, and with some concessions and compromises, but different enough to be noticeable, beneficial both physically and mentally. Shabbat is a therapeutic break in an otherwise electronic nightmare of conformity and similarity imposed by media, most of which is either trivial and valueless or materially and commercially importuning and insidious.

It is true that actually keeping Shabbat requires discipline and being able to postpone gratification or harness it, which is often uncomfortable and grating. But how does one succeed in any area of life without self-control and delayed gratification?

Petty laws annoy us. But imagine you take your family somewhere where there is no such thing as a day off, of the sort of Sunday most of us in the West recognize. If you want your children to understand it you will have to be negative and restrictive. No formal clothes, lie in bed later than usual, read the bulky Sunday papers, go for a walk, sit down to a meal together. These demands are all going to sound petty. It won’t help to say you can do whatever everyone else is doing on the other six days of the week. Kids will always want to do the opposite. Kids will always want to join their friends, the flow, the fashion, the easy fun way out. I know I always did, until yeshivah taught me the value of discipline.

This reflection on Shabbat was provoked by a recent BBC talk and interview with Matthew Engel, a former schoolmate of mine, now a well-respected British journalist. In it he discussed how the strict Christian Sabbath that once controlled the Scottish Islands has slowly been eroded, to argue for the merits of a day off, a break from the pervasive culture of perpetual work, business, computers, and phones. But on the way to that point, he and his equally non-Jewish Jewish interviewer made fun of the Orthodox Shabbat.

Matthew comes from a non-Orthodox Jewish family, brought up in the wilds of Northamptonshire. He and his two elder brothers were sent to Carmel College, where Shabbat was strictly enforced. Matthew later carved out a distinguished career for himself, probably because of the very challenges, difficulties, and disciplines that were forced on him. He became a cricket fan. He was also forced to play cricket at Carmel. Eventually he became the editor of the bible of cricket known as Wisden.

Haredim Allegedly Hurled Rocks at Arabs Violating the Sabbath

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Dozens of Jerusalem Haredim allegedly hurled rocks on Friday night, after the Sabbath began, at Arab vehicles on Route 1 that bypasses Mea Shearim, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency.

The news agency claimed that the attacks “were racially-motivated assaults targeting Palestinians,” while police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said there had been no reports of complaints.

It could very well be that Haredim targeted the cars, and the drivers did not complain to the police.

In any case, it is doubtful the stacks were “racially” motivated. First of all, the all of the vehicles bore Israeli license plates, and there was no way to distinguish, especially from a distance at night, if the drivers were Jewish or Arab

Secondly, Haredim don’t care about the religion of a motorist driving by their area on the Sabbath.

One Arab told Ma’an that police arrived but did not interfere, which is also likely since some of the more violent Haredim like throwing rocks at them also, regardless of their religion and even if it is not the Sabbath.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/haredim-allegedly-hurled-rocks-at-arabs-violating-the-sabbath/2014/01/26/

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