The show must go on… maybe

When I was a kid, many years ago (oyyyyyyyyy) one of the joys that I waited for all week long was the Saturday afternoon matinee at the neighborhood movie theatre. Dozens of my friends and I would meet at the usual corner candy store, fill up a little bag with all we could carry(cause the candy prices in the movie were outrageous) and head over to the movie and wait anxiously, till the doors opened at 12 noon.

My parents would give me a whole dollar (wow) and my mother would pack a lunch in a brown bag (remember those?) that usually consisted of a salami sandwich, an apple and, if I was really lucky, a small bag of Wise potato chips. The admission price was all of 40 cents, a HOT bag of FRESH popcorn was all of 15 cents and a green glass bottle of Coca Cola was an entire dime.

We usually saw two movies, anything with vampires, werewolves, space monsters or ravenous dinosaurs eating Tokyo, a zillion cartoons and we were out of the theatre around 5PM. I guess this was a way for our parents, who had worked hard all week long, to get rid of us so they could have some privacy.

After the movies, my friends and I would descend like vultures with our remaining 35 cents and either go for a couple of slices of pizza with a small soda or to the kosher deli (which was always open on Saturday) and scarf down a hot dog and some french fries. Sometimes I really felt sorry for my kids and their friends when I would tell them this as their eyes would widen with shock.

Right now, in Jerusalem, there is a battle over the possible opening of a brand new huge cineplex with over 10 movie screens, restaurants and shops on Saturday. Of course, the folks who are Shomer Shabbat (Sabbath observant) are up in arms over this, demanding that the place be shuttered from Friday afternoon toll Saturday night. On the other side, are the other residents of the city who work, like my parents did, all week long, and want to enjoy a film and perhaps a meal out on their one full day off.

Personally, I feel that the movie theatre and the other businesses should be open for all. People who observe the Sabbath wouldn’t go to the movies anyway, Why can’t those of us who enjoy the day otherwise, as our day of rest, enjoy a film-who are we hurting? No one forces you to violate Shabbat.

It’s difficult enough that there is no public transportation on Saturday, except for a few spots in Israel’s north where most of the country’s Arab citizens live, you get charged more for your auto insurance for driving on Saturday, even though there is less traffic, and for those who want to visit family or friends in other parts of the country, who might not own cars, there is really no way to get there-or even enjoy a day at the beach!

Movie theatres are open in other parts of the country like Rishon le Tzion and Tel Aviv, but if you can’t get there, you are stuck.

I keep a kosher home so all my Jewish friends , whether they observe the laws of Kashrut or not, can eat in my kitchen (Don’t we all eat in the kitchen and then schmooze at the table?). To my mind it’s simple courtesy, or using “seichel”, a Yiddish word for common sense.

Yes, Israel is the state of ALL the Jewish people, those who are religiously defined or not. Even though I object to the coercion and intolerance of those who demand that I live by their rules of what is Jewish and what is not, I will never deride or defame those who observe Shabbat according to the Halacha that they so strictly, believe in.

Our brave young men and women in the IDF come from all backgrounds and forms of religious observance, as do many of the members of the Knesset and the government.

It’s time for the State of Israel to truly become a nation for all the Jewish people, that recognizes that the foundations of our country will not be torn asunder because some families want to have hot popcorn in a movie theatre in Jerusalem on a Saturday afternoon. After all, come Sunday morning, many of them will put on their IDF uniform and risk their lives for all of us, religious or not.

About the Author
Irwin was born in New York City and is now retired. He lives in Maaleh Adumim since making aliyah 7 years ago.