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Monday, April 28, 2014

It's that time of year again

Last night, as my son and I drove back from the north, we made a bathroom stop at a rest area on Route 6 South. It was distinctly uncomfortable. The entire service area was filled with Arabs, who were behaving wildly. The restaurants were closed, the gas station was closed, and although 4-5 people were inside the supermarket, no one else was being allowed in between 6:45 pm (shortly before we arrived there) and 6:00 am. Because the traffic on Route 6 - the country's main north-south highway and only toll road - is constant, the rest areas are supposed to be open 24/7/365. By definition, by the way, the restaurants therein are not Kosher (because they are open on Shabbat), but you can usually buy pre-packaged food that is Kosher.

Sunday night was the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day. It was also one of the last days on which high school and post-high school yeshiva boys are on vacation - they return to their studies on Wednesday and are there until August. Many of them took advantage of the warm weather to go on one last trip. And many of them did not return home before sundown.

But this is the time of year when the Israeli media trains its cameras on yeshiva boys - looking for any who move a muscle during the siren (which is in the morning only on Holocaust Memorial Day - in our family, we always stand still for it) or who otherwise behave in ways deemed improper or disrespectful. Last night, one such group was 'caught' in Beit Shean, and another in Jerusalem's Sacher park. But a secular group behaving even more rowdily was ignored, because they weren't part of the agenda.
The one news site that reportedly did not veer from the annual "tradition" of hunting down hareidim "desecrating" the day was Walla!, which on Sunday reported that "dozens of hareidi families arrived at Jerusalem's Sacher Park, occupied themselves with barbecues, and started the work of grilling."
What remarkably was not covered by the news source was the jovial game of soccer held by a group of secular Israelis directly adjacent to the hareidi barbecue.
The selective reporting angered more than a few journalists on hareidi issues, who posted enraged responses on their Facebook pages.
Reporter Yedidya Meir, whose photographs of the soccer game were published on the site Hareidim 10, wrote sarcastically "certainly tomorrow (the soccer game) will be on (Walla!'s) front page."
"It's already played out," a hareidi businessman from Jerusalem told Arutz Sheva. "Galloping over to Sacher Park to 'trap' hareidim eating dinner has worn itself out, and I'm happy for that."
"Just like we don't expect that seculars will not hold barbecues on Shabbat and holidays because 'they celebrate the Shabbat differently,' the time has come for you to understand that a hareidi 'caught' eating in Sacher Park isn't, Heaven forbid, due to the disrespect he has for this day," noted the businessman.
It is worth noting that the date for observance of Holocaust Memorial Day was instituted by the Israeli Knesset in 1951, and that a number of rabbis did not adhere to the practice, arguing instead that the Ninth of Av has been set aside as the day to mourn national tragedies to the nation of Israel. Similarly the Chief Rabbinate previously in 1949 decided on the Tenth of Tevet as the date for memorial, given that it is the date of the siege of Jerusalem by Babylon.
When we got back into our car last night, I told my son that the rest stop is open on Shabbat, open on Yom Kippur and open on the 9th day of Av. Perhaps it is like the edict under Jewish law that we are more stringent with rabbinic prohibitions because they are more in need of strengthening. And even more stringent with post-rabbinic (rabbis cannot make new edicts today) prohibitions that have no basis in Jewish law.

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