Friday, October 25, 2013

The True Religious Jews of Beit Shemesh

Sir, -  My focus on Beit Shemesh, I must admit, stems from the fact that my son and his family are residents in Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph. Although they themselves are religious Zionists and totally observant, they have chosen to live in a religiously pluralistic community comprising Haredim, Religious Zionist, and Secular. They felt that it is important for the building of a healthy Israeli society wherein the various components may learn to appreciate and respect one another and thus strengthen the ties that bind us all.

Sadly, now 14 years later there is almost no one left of the secular segment, mainly due to the unfortunate fact that the Haredi world does not view this goal as being of paramount importance and in no manner does it encourage the tolerance necessary towards its realization.

The usual meticulous standards of Haredi religious observance seem to totally disappear when engaged in a bitterly contested mayoralty election. Ethics, morality, civility, truth, and honorable behavior can be easily exchanged by deception, lies, name calling, and totally irreligious behavior -- and this is done despite Harav Ovadiah Yosef's ubiquitous portrait. Is not the portrait of this Torah giant being debased when exploited for partisan political purposes?

The incumbent mayor had signs stating that "True religious Jews vote Abutbul." Who are these true religious Jews? Are they dressed in black garb, getting themselves arrested for the use of fraudulent identity cards in order to elect a 'religious' candidate, or is it rather my son -- the graduate of a Hesder Yeshiva and a practicing attorney who while strict in his religious observance continues to serve in the Army Reserves even though he has long finished with his reserve obligations, and in all his endeavors strives to bring honor to God's name?

Petach Tikva

[Image credit: צביקי ולדמן]