Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Prayer in Schools

On of the recent news items that has really baffled me has been the Kerfuffle over prayer in State High schools in this beloved country of ours.

In case you're smarter than me and don't follow the local Israeli media, a few weeks ago a group of students at a non-religious high school in Ramat Gan complained that they were not allowed to daven Mincha on school property. This ban was supported not only by the school principal, but by the Mayor of Ramat Gan.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone would be bothered by a group of students that want to pray in their own time. If they wanted to set up a different quiet activity during recess like a chess club, reading group, meditation circle, or whatever, do you really think that the mayor would take the time to make a fool of himself by opposing it.

Finally our great and noble (and militant anti-religious) Minister of Education, Yael Tamir, got involved, and today published a ruling. Her conclusion - that schools have to allow "any" type of prayer, however if there is no suitable location on the school campus, an alternative venue must be found within a 10 minute walk.

Well - how is it possible that there are schools that have no available space, no empty classrooms, or corner of a schoolyard where a small group of students can gather, in their own time to daven?

There were other times and places where Jewish Prayer was limited or banned, how tragic that this could happen here in the Jewish State - is this really what we waited 2000 years for?

And even more tragic - how can we sleep at night when someone like minister Yael Tamir is responsible for the education of hundreds of thousands of Jewish children?

Before I close for the evening - 2 happier notes -
  • The much-awaited snow finally started falling in Jersalem, (see Aish's Window on the Wall), may the snow and rain continue to fall and be a Bracha to our beloved country.
  • Radio Kol Chai reported this morning that in response to teh Kassamim in Sderot, a group of Sofrim have volunteered their services to check and replace Mezuzot in that city (which is by itself good news). The amazing part of the story is that 70% of the Mezuzot were found to be Kosher, or even "Kosher L'Mahadrin" - I wish that our holy city of Modi'in had such a pass rate with mezuzot.

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