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Even if right, I can’t celebrate the First Station being open on Shabbat

The decision to keep Jerusalem's First Station open on Saturdays may be right but it's also sad
Jerusalem's First Station entertainment district, December 2013 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Jerusalem's First Station entertainment district, December 2013 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Being a modern religious Jew is complex, as by being so we are part of two worlds, two value systems, two communities.

On the one hand, we are part of an eternal tradition, based on the rules and commandments of the Torah, unquestioned accepted beliefs and principles which guide our lives and how we see things on a day to day basis.

On the other hand, we live and are very much part of the modern, Western, liberal world. We accept we have to be part of the broader society around us and sensitive to the needs of all.

We try to synthesis these two worlds — Sometimes this attempt is painful, torn and lonely.

It was reported that the First Station will remain open on Shabbat.

It may well be that it is right the First Station remains open for a number of perfectly legitimate reasons — ideological, political, legal, demographic, economic and yes, even religious. I am not discussing this here.

We can’t make another Jew keep any part of the Torah that he doesn’t want to. Neither religious coercion or judging your fellow Jew works or is acceptable. Everyone has the right to live their lives how they wish.

What I am saying is that loving and caring for your fellow Jew is the basic principle of Judaism and it should therefore deeply trouble and pain us internally if we see our fellow Jews breaking Shabbat, wherever. At the First Station, in our block or on the street.

Throughout Jewish history, it was Shabbat that kept us Jewish and separate. ‘More than the Jews kept Shabbat, Shabbat kept the Jews’. Shabbat is THE fundamental commandment and belief in the Torah and Jews throughout the generations kept and celebrated Shabbat despite hardship and self-sacrifice.

When I see a fellow Jew not keep Shabbat — I also feel a sense of sadness that they haven’t been taught or experienced the sanctity and beauty of Shabbat and how it can elevate and improve our lives on many levels.

And, no. It’s got nothing to do with politics or even it happening in Yerushalayim or even Israel. I feel the same when seeing Jews not observing Shabbat outside Israel.

It’s got to do with that deep feeling of responsibility and love for my brothers and sisters.

So, if you believe that the First Station being open on Shabbat is right, that’s totally up to you and you may well be right.

But, to celebrate and rejoice at the fact that the First Station will be open on Shabbat, in public, I personally can’t do.

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About the Author
Benjy Singer works in social media, content writing and editing. He runs a popular online community, IsraelB.org, which is a very useful resource, especially for Olim. A graduate of the LSE, UCL and Yeshivat Har Etzion, Benjy enjoys writing, teaching and connecting people.
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