King's Evangelical Divinity School

20 October 2011

Ultra-strict Jewish sect trashes ice cream parlour

The Daily Mail reports an ultra-strict Jewish sect which recently trashed an ice-cream parlour in the Mea Shearim district of Jerusalem for modesty reasons. I know the district well, having spent quite a bit of time there over numerous visits. It's a district you certainly can't drive a car in during Shabbat, while dressing immodestly is at your own risk.

Mea Shearim offers an important insight into how Israeli society is increasingly divided along sacred and secular lines (whether ultra-ultra religious, quite ultra-religious, robustly-but-not-really-ultra-religious, somewhat strongly religious, fairly mildly religious, nominally religious, slightly anti-religious, and downright religiously hostile). For those not interested in the intricacies of discerning the quite bewildering number of expressions, branches and sects of Israeli Judaism, the important point is that Israeli society is strongly divided between religious and non-religious lines (indeed there is real tension between the two), which in turn can have quite an important bearing on Israeli politics. It has to be seen and experienced at length to begin to understand, and those opining on the Middle East conflict without fully realising the role of religion (or opposition to it) in the national psyche miss an important point.

Anyway, the Daily Mail article is available here.

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