Jerusalem – Religious and Secularist Leaders Hold Panel on Coexistence

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    Jerusalem – Charedi, secular and national-religious figures in Jerusalem came together last night (Tuesday) for a panel discussion on how Shabbos should be observed publicly in the capital, according to a report in Kikar HaShabbat.

    “We have an obligation to abide by the principle of live and let live,” said Councilman Ofer Berkovich, of secularist party Hitorerut Yerushalayim and organizer of the event, which was held at the City Council hall. “I think in order to advance the city in a significant way we need responsibility, especially by the leadership of the various segments of the population. Only through responsibility on a personal and leadership level will we be able to conduct a dialogue and live together in Jerusalem.”

    Commenting on the protests surrounding the Karta parking lot Rav Ari Avraham Samja, head of Machon Helichot, said, “Attempts to blow every dispute out of proportion is an effort by people from both sides seeking to manipulate the situation: the kind of people who think this city cannot have a secular mayor because he will side with the secular residents, and those on the other side who claim there cannot be a charedi mayor because he will side with the charedim.”

    According to Dovid (Dudi) Zilbershlag, founder of Bakehila, a charedi weekly based in Jerusalem, it was Mayor Nir Barkat’s unilateral approach that unnerved the charedi public. “The issue of parking lots does not bother the charedim; it was the strident declaration that bothered them,” he said, referring to Mayor Nir Barkat’s unexpected decision to open the parking lot on Shabbos. “We can look the other way when necessary, but you cannot make declarations that insult others.”

    “I condemn the people who burn and destroy, and on several occasions I’ve paid a price for this myself,” continued Zilbershlag, “but you cannot expect the charedi public to denounce someone defending the sanctity of Shabbat.”

    Dr. Yaron Ezrachi, a professor of political science at The Hebrew University, brought the panel to a close with a note of hope for the future. “The light of sunset on the rocks of Jerusalem is dearer to me than the light of sunset on the concrete of Tel Aviv. I grew up in Tel Aviv, but I fled to Jerusalem. I fled from the emptiness of a society that is turning into a perpetual shopping mall with no boundaries. Moreover Tel Aviv is built on sand and Jerusalem is built on bedrock.

    “The day will come when young people come back to Jerusalem by the truckload,” he predicted.


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