Religion and Divine Dispatches

30. August 2011

In Israel, everything seems to be political. Or historical. Or religious.

Jerusalem is the most important location for Jews and Christians and one of the most importants for Muslims.

But it’s not only about the monotheist religions themselves – there are much more questions and even clashes inside the different religious movements.

Almost every fifth Israeli Jew is orthodox – but this is also not a homogeneous group, there are subgroups like the Hasidic Jews, the Modern Orthodox Jews or the members of the Heradic Judaism.

Nothing exposes religion more to the reproach of its enemies than the worldliness and half-heartedness of the professors of it.

(Matthew Henry, Presbyterian commentator of the bible, 1804)

An inhabitant of Beit Shemesh

Beit Shemesh – a conflict within the conflict

By Kim Nadine Meyer*

The wall between Israel and the Westbank is a very famous symbol for the Middle East Conflict. But apart from this very well known border there are other barriers right in the centre of Israel.

Driving through Bet Shemesh, a white poster with huge black letters displayed on an appartementbuilding appears to be some kind of a borderline. "The women who pass our neighbourhood are obliged to appear dressed up modestly. That includes Shirts with long sleeves, long skirts, not with pants or exposed dressing.“ The message of the Hebrew words is clear: In this area the rules differ.

The hot debated school in Beit Shemesh

The religious conflict between ultra-Orthodox and more secular Jews has a big influence on the daily life in many cities in Israel. Recently the situation in Bet Shemesh just escalated. The girls at the national religious “Orot” school became victims of religious fights. Mayor Moshe Abutbul sent a letter to the parents’ association, warning that he had received serious threats from ultra-Orthodox residents of the city.

They vowed to cause physical harm to both to the mayor and the students in case the school opens as planned. As announced the extremists came, shouting at the girls. They don't want them to go to school next to their neighbourhood. Although the children also grow up in religious families, the group of protestors criticize their clothes and every style of living that is slightly different to their own.

But the citizens of the other neighbourhoods stand together protecting the children. But until today the girls have to be accompanied on their way home from school. Rabbi Dov Lipman, who lives next to the school, though is convinced: A constant dialogue will help to find a solution one day.

*Kim Nadine Meyer works as editor and reporter at BERGEDORFER ZEITUNG newspaper.

More than 250,000 orthodox Jews live in Jerusalem

The clash at Beit Shemesh

The Haredi Jews get in action

Intoxicated by the Holy City

What can happen in Jerusalem

Holy souvenirs are all around in the old city

The Western Wall midst the Old City

Even a rock cafe can be holy

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