That Jewish-State of Mind

Israel — the Jewish state. It’s right there, in our name, so why does it drive people crazy whenever there’s an incident that only reminds us of the religious nature of our country?

Last week, the whole country went ballistic when Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to the religious party’s conditions on the maintenance work of the Israeli railway during Shabbat. In this agreement, it was decided that maintenance work will be forced to halt during the holy day, thus causing a lot of disruption on train schedules and operation. Shocking, isn’t it? A Jewish state being forced to halt maintenance during the only day in the week were its forbidden in the Torah. Wait, it sounds perfectly understandable to me.

By definition this state has agreed to preserve a certain status-quo on the subject of religious laws and enforcement. Our country was founded in the name of the Jewish people, for Jewish people and with Jewish tradition in consideration, so why are we shocked the status-quo is suddenly being enforced a little harsher? Very simple. We need different labels now.

Times have changed since the day this country was founded. The young generation that lives here now thrives for secular culture rather than a religious one. We want to be able to go anywhere we want to, whenever we want to, without being judged by people who think that their way of life is more important than others. The thing is most of us don’t really have a problem with the fact that trains and busses don’t work on Shabbat. We have grown up in this country and grew accustomed to its rules and regulations during the weekend. What really grinds our gears is the fact that there are some people still trying to change the rules of the “game” for their own benefit. These people should stop and think. We don’t force you to work or hop on public transportation throughout Shabbat, we don’t force you to use electricity or go out for a nice evening in a restaurant. We don’t force you to “contaminate” your Shabbat with our secular way of life – so why do you feel the need to tighten your religious grip on us?

“Live and let live”- I believe this stands for the freedom of choice. In a perfect world we would have our choices of living either secular or religious lifestyles. We would have the Infrastructures in order to keep on living a secular way of life even during Shabbat, while having the choice to not use them if we don’t want to. The Jewish state should consider its non-Jewish citizens by now, it should take into consideration the whole lot of people and lifestyles that are in disposal in its territory.

The Jewish state is not just Jewish-religious anymore, nor has it ever been (secular ways of life have been present in it ever since it erected), and it’s time to act like it. It’s time to give secular freedom to those who want it and to keep the Judaism as our traditional background and bond. Our religion is based on beautiful values, magnificent stories and lovely holidays, can’t it be a Jewish state that puts the emphasis on that rather than these outdated rules of thumb? Let’s thrive toward a Jewish-traditional state, one where our tradition as a people is more important than preserving some status-quo. A tradition that is much stronger than a steel railway in Shabbat.

About the Author
Ethan is a 22-year-old guy living in southern Tel-Aviv, working in northern Tel-Aviv and writing in central Tel-Aviv: You can say he travels a lot.
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