JERUSALEM (RNS) The creation of a temporary artificial beach in Jerusalem — a landlocked city located atop a mountain — has outraged many ultra-Orthodox Jews in this holy city.

Jerusalem’s new imitation beach has attracted the ire of the city’s ultra-Orthodox leaders who believe it desecrates the Sabbath and promotes immodest behavior.

Jerusalem’s new imitation beach has attracted the ire of the city’s ultra-Orthodox leaders, who believe it desecrates the Sabbath and promotes immodest behavior. RNS photo by Michele Chabin


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Several ultra-Orthodox rabbis lodged a complaint with the Jerusalem city council charging that the beach will encourage unseemly behavior and desecration of the Jewish Sabbath. The city issued a permit for the private initiative but provided no funding.

Built at the First Station, a restored train station complex that, unlike most of West Jerusalem, boasts restaurants and activities that are open on Shabbat, the whimsical “beach” consists of tons of white sand, beach chairs, a lifeguard’s station and a watermelon stand. A surfing simulator will open soon.

The outcry over the beach — which officially opened Sunday (June 15) but was already attracting many people, including some modern-Orthodox Jewish families, over Shabbat — is just one of the many battles the ultra-Orthodox community has waged in recent years over the issue of Shabbat closures and the sanctity of Jerusalem.

An article in the ultra-Orthodox newspaper Yated Ne’eman last week dubbed the beach a “scandal” and accused the municipality of opening a huge complex “for Shabbat-violators and terrible deeds.” The First Station, it said, is part of “a long chain of persecution and harassment of all things sacred” by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

Barkat, who is secular, has tried to strike a balance between the religious and cultural needs of the city’s diverse residents.

Watching her children play in the sand on Saturday (June 14), Chava Gardner, a modern-Orthodox Jerusalemite, said, “I have no problem with the ‘beach’ here in Jerusalem, and maybe it will actually discourage some people from driving to Tel Aviv and breaking Shabbat in the process.”

YS/MG END CHABIN

15 Comments

  1. As an outside observer, everything regarding jewishness and israel is totally confusing. Some will claim they are a race even though I know there exists sephardic, ashkenazi, black and convert jews. Further, “gods chosen people” in “the land he gave them” look very secular in behavior when they proclaim tel aviv as the worlds gay mecca. Jewish religious texts follow much more closely the old testament than american christians do, so their acceptance of a variant gender and sexuality is suprising from that standpoint versus american christians who tend to follow new testament ideas. Overall, a very confusing group of people.

    Thise rabbis of the ultra orthadox variety probably protested the beach as they are actually the ones following OT ideals, and didn’t want the influence of the secular “jews” pride beach parties.

    • @Lles Nats,

      You said, “Some will claim they are a race even though I know there exists sephardic, ashkenazi, black and convert jews.”

      I’ve got great news:
      All humans are the same race, no matter what anyone tells you. We originated in African and we are all one tribe: the Human Race; Homo Sapiens.

      God is an imaginary divider, a primitive foil. It doesn’t really exist.

        • The same science which makes your computer work
          validates all of the DNA record that says we originated from one group
          of humans in Africa.

          We are all Homo Sapiens – a species of primate.
          We are not descended from apes – we are apes.

          Get over your profound vanities and face the DNA proof.
          God is imaginary and is only good for massaging your vanity and giving you a sense of superiority over others.

          Religion taught you a lie. You are an ape and nothing more.

  2. Essentially what is happening in Israel is akin to what happens in places where one gives fundamentalist religious figures a little bit of civil authority. It gets abused and is exercised in the most petty ridiculous forms possible.

    Exactly no different than Christians getting uppity over enforcement of “blue laws”. Came from the same sort of theocratic thinking which marks all fundamentalist religious practice.

    Of course Lles, you have displayed that it isn’t a real post by a fundamentalist christian, if it is not dismissive and insulting of other faiths.

    • What I get from your post:

      Religious people in authority abuse it, always without exception. You exclude assumptions about the relative abuse levels that occurs under a government of secular thinkers…resulting in silo logic I can assume only supports your bias.

      Further, you think my honest observations aboutcontradictions I see among jewish society amounts to an premeditated insult, and that is all I am capable of as a religious thinker.

      If either of these are true, I am embarassed for the logic that occurs in your head. If I misunderstand, I apologize.

      • Your “assumption” is a patently ridiculous attempt at reciprocity. We have a secular government by design. It certainly does nothing to address a word I said and shows a rather ugly side of you.

        If you are American, you LIVE in a government of secular thinkers. Its part of the job description for a government official. All actions and laws must have rational and secular purposes. Though many try to violate such principles, they still remain, and are codified by our 1st Amendment.

        The reason for that is because EVERY country which had an established religion has engaged in discriminatory, abusive conduct in service of it. Every public policy guided solely by religious concerns ends up being discriminatory and abusive by its nature. Hence the requirement in the US that laws serve a rational and secular purpose.

        “Further, you think my honest observations aboutcontradictions I see among jewish society amounts to an premeditated insult, and that is all I am capable of as a religious thinker.”

        Bullcrap. You were being dismissive and nasty-minded. That is not being a religious thinker, that is just being tone deaf and arrogant towards other religious beliefs. Plenty of religious believers would not engage in such a condescending, arrogant and dismissive tone. But it is typical of fundamentalists. They carelessly (and usually unintentionally) insult others and pawn it off as an expression of their belief in God. No sense of personal responsibility from them at all.

        “If either of these are true, I am embarassed for the logic that occurs in your head. If I misunderstand, I apologize.”

        Typical passive aggressive non-apology. Apologizing that someone is offended rather than of making the act to give offense.

        • Ok, so you gave a government history lesson which I don’t dispute but did not originally comment on. So that seems extraneous.

          You originally posted exclusivity regarding abuse among religious governments. I pointed out the obvious, that abuse happens in all governments. You then say my efforts in doing so is patently ridiculous.

          You then mandate my honest observations about jewish society are bullcrap, and I am not responsible foraking them. Somehow implying I need to be responsible for my thinking to somthing other myself.

          Done with you. Your here for self reassurance only, and not real engaged thought with others. And you wonder why people can’t stand you. But I’ve learned my lesson. Larrys posts is the crap for brains tripe on these boards.

          • It is entirely on topic. You were talking about abuses of secular governments. Like YOUR OWN. The only one who strayed off topic was yourself.

            There is not a single government with an established religion without a history of sectarian discriminatory behavior. Not a one. Established religion INVITES discriminatory behavior as a matter of course. Its an inevitability which is recognized in our country and the reason for our 1st Amendment. A secular government approach to religion.

            Your comments about Judaism may be honestly believed by you, but expressed in a dismissive, insulting manner. As if you are the arbiter of what they believe or should believe. That is bullcrap. Self-righteous narcissistic bullcrap.

            Feel free to be insulted. Feel free to ignore my posts.

        • According to you the Constitution imposes a view of religion on its citizens: that of secularity and humanism.

          I would argue that the Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion.

          You can be a humanist. An atheist. Or you can be religious in whatever way one wants to be.

          The government is neutral. It may not promote one over the other or impede one. You I suspect find this hard to accept because of your belief that religion is the root of all evil. A faith based proposition of course with much evidence to the contrary though I will grant there is evidence that some people have used religion for horrible things. But some people have been motivated by religion to do wonderful things. Dr. King is an example. That is Rev. Dr. King.

          • You have forgotten about the other side of the equation with religious liberties. The Establishment Clause.

            A government cannot protect the free exercise of religion if it is beholden to one given faith (or sect). An established religion in government always will engage in sectarian discrimination. In the case with Israel, since the government is beholden not only to one faith, but at times the most fundamentalist/extreme sect of it, the liberties of others are regularly attacked.

            Haredi sects wield far more power in Israeli civil society (in Jerusalem mostly) than their voting base could produce. They use it to attack less orthodox sects, to deny the legitimacy of other sects, to promote discrimination against other sects. This only comes from a lack of separation of church and state.

            We can be whatever religion we want to be because our government does not favor one faith over another. Ecumenicism, embracing all faiths is as much part of secular action as embracing no faith at all. I prefer to be inclusive. It is much more agreeable.

            “You I suspect find this hard to accept because of your belief that religion is the root of all evil.”

            Wrong guy, you wanted Atheist Max for that argument.

            I believe religion has its place for many people. I am of the mind that religion is like flatulence. Everyone thinks their own are OK, but its best kept privately, otherwise it leaves a big stink ;)

          • Great comment. Libs actively seek out to disparage religious worldviews, with the general except of judaism. So they bring “hate” on themselves. They do not want you to have freedom to choose religious thought and practice in any part of governance or education, or in any other part of your daily life they can legally squash. They will go so far as to actively seek to label all religion a business to kill it off with their government….in a wierd way sorta admitting that gov kills such entites. There is no respecr for the freedom of choice among conflicting worldviews among liberals. The only concepts they consider freedom are their own.

            Its a sad, sick country and its only getting worse.

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