Thursday, October 2, 2008

who's afraid of Tefillin?

Firstly, I hope all my readers had a meaningful and productive Rosh HaShana, and the new year has got off to a good start.
For those in Israel who use the Jewish date when writing cheques, please don't forget that we are now תשס"ט.

Also, for those reading today (Tzom Gedalya), I hope that you have an easy and meaningful fast. This year Tzom Gedaliya has taken on a new meaning for me as I recently started the OU's Nach Yomi project, and we recently finished Sefer Yerimayahu which gives a historical context to the assassination of Gedalya. For those looking for a simple project to take on for the new year, I would highly recommend checking out the Nach Yomi project, it takes a few minutes each day to review a chapter of Nach and within two years you will have covered all Nach.
(Additional details here:

There were so many things that I had planned to blog about today, however there was one Modi'in-related news article that I didn't think that I could ignore - according to news report, a High School in Modi'in has banned students from putting on Tefillin on school grounds.
Here is Arutz 7's summary of the story:

( Students at a secular school in the upscale city of Modi'in, located between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, have charged their high school principal with prohibiting them from putting on tefillin because he considers it "religious coercion." Planners of Modi'in foresaw the modern city as a bastion for secular Jews, but observant Jews nevertheless represent a significant portion of the population.

The dispute in the school broke out when students asked a classmate, who had donned tefillin before classes or during recess, to do the same. The principal allegedly told the students that they were carrying out missionary activity and that many parents do not want their children exposed to religious observance,
I love Arutz 7's description of Modii'n as "the upscale city of Modi'in, located between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem", didn't realize that this was an "upscale city", but I can't argue with the description of "between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem", sounds like a good name for a blog :)

More details of the Tefillin story were published on YNet and it's worth visiting that site just to read the comments.

Firstly I should say that I don't believe the story as printed, it makes no sense. I am sure that there are additional details that will come out in the following days, or the Principal will retract her decision and apologize. Notice that the principal didn't yet respond.

I also love the response of the unnamed official spokesperson:
"nothing is stopping those who wish to put on teffilin at the school privately and personally. The student was asked not to bring his tefillin to school ..."
So according to the spokesperson of the Modi'in Municipality, it's OK for the student to put on Tefilin in school, provided that you don't bring your Tefilin, or borrow Tefilin from a classmate.

Given that we have municpal elections in a few weeks, I would love to know who that spokesperson is before I cast my vote.

I'll keep an eye on the local Modi'in media, I'm sure in the next few days they'll have a follow-up article with additional details, Bli-Neder I'll post a follow up column as additional details come out.

Best Wishes for a G'mar Chatima Tova to my readers and all Klal Yisrael

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