Friday, November 02, 2007

A Tale of Two Cities

The front page of today's New York Times has a story about the town of Beit Shemesh, an ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Israel. The people who live there (about 32,000), including a fair number of migrants from western Europe and the United States, have chosen to live in this community where the town's Rabbinate Council makes sure that orthodox Judaism is strictly followed. And, in true unbiased journalistic fashion, the article's author simply reports the facts without putting in his personal opinions about approved kosher cell phones that block 10,000 "questionable" phone numbers, public transportation that segregates men from women, etc. The reporter writes that the Israeli market economy has adjusted to meet the needs of these people, and that politicians are paying attention to them because of the power they'll wield in national elections. According to the article, "Because they live in tight communities like this one, and obey their rabbis, they have significant power in the marketplace, as well as in the voting booth, said Rafi Melnick, dean of the Lauder School of Government at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya." These are Orthodox Jews committed to living their lives in a certain way. They live in a community with others who feel the same way. In the words of my deceased Jewish grandmother, "They should live and be well."

But...

Remember back in July when the town of Ave Maria, Florida, had a community "open house" to show prospective residents and merchants the residential and commercial properties available for people who wish to live amongst committed Roman Catholics?
If you're a late-comer to the world of Young Fogeys, or if you forgot, I wrote about it in a previous blog entry.
Remember the journalistic cynicism as they spoke about the town they labelled, "Bibleland"? Evidently, in the world of mainstream media, you can be an orthodox Jew, but not an orthodox Roman Catholic. Remember how the ACLU said they were going to be "watching this town very carefully"?

In the end, it is a tale of two cities. Two cities inhabited by people who want to live their lives following God in the way they believe He asks them to do so. They should both live and be well, no matter what anyone thinks.

2 comments:

Victoria said...

I wonder if the NYT have been as accepting had the Orthodox Jewish Community been in the USA instead of Israel?

Father, it would be easier to post on this site if you would/or ask Google to install an option to obtain a Google account. As the comments section is now it doesn't recognise my identity and I have to re-register on another blog and then return here.

CPT Tom said...

You've obviously never heard of the Orthodox Jewish communities just outside of New York in Westchester and Orange County. These are self contained fully Orthodox Jewish communities that no one bothers or says anything about. Nor should they, as these folks are well within their constitutional rights to live in community and follow their religion's rules. Of course, these communities are under the law of the municipalities that they are in. Maybe that is the difference.