Michael Boyden

An Open Letter to Aryeh Deri

Dear Minister Deri,

I am sure that you and your charedi coalition partners must be rubbing their hands with glee at their success in having passed into law the controversial minimarkets bill by a vote of 58 to 57, therefore giving you the right to close down stores on Shabbat.

I share your wish that as few people as possible should have to work on the Sabbath, which should be a day of rest for everyone. After all, I too want to preserve the Jewish character of the State of Israel.

However, I am sure you will agree that there is something illogical in the fact that people will be able to sit in a restaurant enjoying a meal while someone looking for a loaf of bread next door will find the minimarket closed!

What are you possibly hoping to achieve by this absurd piece of legislation, which strangely leaves convenience stores attached to gas stations open? Do you think you will persuade more Jews to observe the Shabbat, or are you more likely to increase the loathing that many Israelis feel for anything Jewish as a consequence of your imposing your world view upon them?

Until I made aliyah more than thirty years ago, I had never met Jews who were so alienated by Judaism that they even resented putting on a kippah when entering a synagogue. Unfortunately, religious coercion has made many Israelis distance themselves from their Jewish heritage and that, as I feel sure you will agree, is a tragedy.

Rather than encouraging Jews to embrace Judaism, you are chasing them away.

It was Moses Maimonides, who in a different context wrote that one should draw people closer gently. Your actions and those of the likes of you only serve to alienate them.

About the Author
Made aliyah from the UK in 1985, am a former president of the Israel Council of Reform Rabbis and am currently rabbi of Kehilat Yonatan in Hod Hasharon, Israel.
Related Topics
Related Posts