Yishai Ephraim Barr
Yishai Ephraim Barr

Secular “Freedom and Pluralism”

Due to some events that have happened in the past weeks, whether it’s serious like cancelling the trackwork or stupid because some people are too disgruntled to listen to a politician say something about Judaism and all these disgusting articles on Times Of Israel, I’m going to get things straight in order for the “pluralists” to stop trying to incite against religious Jews in the media.

Just for the record, I don’t hate Chilonim and they don’t hate me and I have many Chiloni friends. This is for you guys who say that religious people cause all the world’s wars and that we’re using tax money for unnecessary things.

I live in Modiin, a town that has a plural population of many secular and  religious Jews and a few Charedim as well. When Modiin was founded, the idea was to create a secular only town without any ground dedicated for shuls. (That’s not pluralist). However, since many datiim leumiim moved in, things did not go as planned. The religious community started davening in kindergartens and people’s houses. This was not ideal, and there were demands for proper synagogue buildings. A house that also decided to become a yeshiva also faced a threat from the municipality.

Later some battles by lawyers from the sect managed to get permits to build synagogues. Today, these synagogues are full on Shabbat, disputing the claims by “Modiin Chofshit” that they’re unnecessary.

Modiin Chofshit is an organization that claims that religious people in Modiin are limiting their freedom or something because the Iriya is funding synagogue construction on municipal land that they claim was meant for “hanging out places”. They also complain about lack of public transport on Shabbat and closed kosher restaurants and similar things and always blame the “datiim”. They claim that every district in Modiin should only have one shul, which is ridiculous and hypocritical, regarding that Modiin has shopping centres every few hundred meteres.

Now, to make it clear, these synagogues are funded entirely by donations made by the local community. The locations of the shuls are in large religious populations and Modiin has enough “hanging out places” funded by the municipality for the disgruntled freedom fighters. But despite this, the organization keeps on inciting against the religious community. There are many examples of seculars in Modiin discriminating against religious people, but not the opposite.

I’m not saying that this affects me personally, but I’m bringing it up now, because of what people are saying.

When you hear about a boy who was sent home because he brought Tefilin to school, you do things, just like the women who are protesting now by the local Azrieli centre, because one of the clothes shops told a breastfeeding mother to leave.

Obviously, the public opinion of the nice people who live here, including our influential mayor, Haim Bibas (who has done more for Modiin than any other mayor and hasn’t challenged the rights of anyone’s freedom), oppose the demands of the “Modiin Chofshit” group and any discrimination, but the message here is that people always complain about how datiim make their lives hard when the truth is vice versa.

Now, I’m not talking about the current government or any other true stories that you find once every half year in the news, because unlike what people claim, many Charedim do work, many of them are good at what they do and many of them aren’t stuck in their own business. But just like Jewish people have incitement against them by other people, within the Jews, secular Jews incite a lot against religious Jews. (And if it’s a true issue, they make a big exaggerated deal out of it, like secular Jews don’t do anything bad).

Many of the soldiers serving in the IDF are religious. (And the stupid demands of the army to shave that you’ve probably forgotten about are not made by them).

About what Naftali Bennet said about Jewish studies, he’s right. There aren’t too many countries that don’t study their own culture enough, but Israel is one of them, and that should change. And that’s not the only problem here. Bennet is trying to get schools to teach more about the history of Ethiopian and Mizrachi Jews, and among the secular “pluralist” community, this is proving to be quite controversial.

But in the religious community, these things are already being taught in seminars, without the demand of the ministry of education, because they understand it’s importance.

Bennet didn’t say that maths and science isn’t important if anyone asked, he said that Jewish studies is more important. It doesn’t practically change how much you learn in science (and it doesn’t defy Judaism, but that’s another issue).

About public transportation on Shabbat, as a religious person, I don’t want my tax money being spent on something I’m not going to use and that breaks the halacha. However, I might agree to use it to take cars off the road and save lives, but that’s all I’m willing to do. I don’t approve of restaurants that open on Shabbat and don’t have a Kashrut certificate, and I won’t buy food in those shops. If the Chilonim want shops open on Shabbat, do it, I don’t care and if anyone asks, I didn’t prevent you from doing it. Just don’t blame us if your favorite Aroma branch was closed, because we live here too, and Aroma gets good money from us.

And just to make it clear, Datiim Leumiim aren’t part of the so called stupid Secular – Charedi conflict. That’s entirely your business. We accept people’s differences. That’s one reason why many Datiim Leumiim live in Judea and Samaria as opposed to medinat Tel Aviv where many religious people used to live but have now left.

About the Author
Yishai was born in Jerusalem and lived in Sydney until he returned to Israel in 2006 and now lives in Modiin. Most of the articles written here are about Judaism from a practical view and about general things from politic to life as an Autistic boy.
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