Two Israeli cities, Modiin and Raanana have been in the news lately, due to 2 extremely strange news items. Since many bloggers live in these cities**, I'm interested in their feedback...(I guess Petach Tivkva should be lucky they didn't appear in this post.)
** Commenter Abbi posts here @ The Muqata too... Apologies if I forgot to give you a link...will gladly update the post :)
Story 1 -- Modi'in
A high school in the central city of Modiin forbade a student to bringing his tefillin onto school grounds, threatening to expel him."It started on the first day of school," says A, an 11th grader. "Two classmates of mine told me they wanted to put on teffilin every morning, and asked me to take them to a rabbi to have them checked. I did that, and the rabbi found the tefillin to be damaged and in need of repair."For the time being, A. started bringing his phylacteries to school, and in their free time, during breaks and free periods, the three would gather at a small classroom which was not being used, and put on the phylacteries for a few minutes every day.Other students heard about this and asked to join them, and they would all meet every morning. This went on uninterrupted until one day the students wanted to put on the phylacteries when a class was cancelled and their regular classroom was occupied.Instead, the group entered the school library, where the librarian pointed them in the direction of the unoccupied photocopy room.When the students returned to the same room the following day, the librarian told A. that the school principal, Nurit Zak, wanted to see him in her office.A.'s mother was amazed by the decision. "I am shocked and astonished," she said. "We came from France, where such things happen on occasion, but we never imagined that they could happen here, in Israel. It hurts me that he was punished so severely, as if he had brought drugs or alcohol to school."The high school principal refused to respond and directed us to the Modiin Municipality's spokesperson, who said that "nothing is stopping those who wish to put on teffilin at the school privately and personally. The student was asked not to bring his tefillin to school and to pursause others to join him." [source: ynetnews]
This past Friday, I took my 5 year old to buy new pairs of tzitzit -- at our local "moetza datit" (religious community council -- they also sell Judaica, books and religious items). Unfortunately, it was closed. While walking away, my 5 year old queried, "Where is the Moezta Chilonit" (the "secular community council" -- a non-existent concept...or so I thougt) I didn't have an answer for him till now -- it must be run by the Modiin high school principle, Nurit Zak.
Story 2 -- Raanana
This past Shabbat, dozens of religious teenagers blocked cars on the "Sheshet HaYamim" street in Ra'anana. This is a very unusual event, as Raanana has always been seen as a city of good neighborly relations between the religious and secular communities. City officials are extremely concerned that this will inflame tensions in the city and degragde the relationship between the two sides.The event took placed on Friday evening, close to midnight, when approximately 60 teenagers took to the street and closed it to traffic. They reportedly told the shocked drivers, "It is forbidden drive on Shabbat"When one motorist's vehicle was blocked from driving, she called the municipal hotline who sent the police and munipal security patrols to the scene -- they disperesed the crowd which was next to the Ariel religious school.Despite this being a unique event, the Raanan education department will start a campaign among the religious students,"in order to ensure these events do not reccur in Raanana" [source: mynet (Hebrew)]
I can understand religious Raanana teenagers wanting to teach their fellow neighbors about the importance of Shabbat, but blocking the road? That will not win them any brownie points with their neighbors...let alone convince anyone to stop driving. Maybe give out leaflets, or even hold up banners at the side of the road about the holiness of Shabbat, but blocking the roads? What's going on in Raanana?
It's almost Yom Kippur...can't we keep these sort of incidents to a minimum?