Opening the parking garage on Shabbat

I'm religious, and I'm in favor of it.

By RACHEL AZARIAH
July 1, 2009 20:55
3 minute read.
Opening the parking garage on Shabbat

black-hatted haredi protest 248.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

I am a religious woman, and I believe it is essential to keep open the Carta parking garage. I was educated in the State Religious school system; I grew up in Bnei Akiva. My public service is based on religious-Zionist values, including a commitment to Jewish law, to Israeli society at large and to the Jewish people. Based on these values, I am certain that we should keep open the Carta garage. There is no connection between Sabbath desecration and opening it. The main argument of the haredim is that opening the garage causes additional Sabbath desecration, since more people drive to visit the Old City. But that contention is nothing more than demagoguery and abuse of Jewish law for the purpose of gaining control of the public domain. Reality proves that there is no connection between opening the parking garage and the number of people who keep or desecrate the Sabbath. Specifically, if the Carta parking garage does not remain open, then one of two things will occur: Either people will drive to visit the Old City and will spend half an hour looking for parking which, in terms of formal Jewish law, will lead to even more desecration of the Sabbath; or they will drive to the beach, where there is plenty of parking. The haredim see themselves in a struggle to reduce Sabbath desecration. They base themselves on the Jewish tradition of mutual concern, in which every Jew has a responsibility to ensure that other Jews do not violate the Sabbath or commit other transgressions. But in the context of the secular and pluralistic life led by most of the Israeli public, all the arguments derived from this precept are unfounded because most people will not keep or desecrate the Sabbath based on the opening or closing of a parking garage. THE TRUTH is that this has nothing to do with the Sabbath at all. The main issues on the agenda are: Who does the Western Wall belong to? Who does the city belong to? And primarily, who does the public domain in Jerusalem belong to? As a member of the Eda Haredit told me, he is opposed to the Western Wall being a tourist site, and therefore is against the development of its approach roads. He wants only those who don a kippa similar to his own to be able to enjoy the site that the entire Jewish people has yearned for for thousands of years, and which was liberated by IDF soldiers. That's the whole issue. The haredim want the Western Wall and the city for themselves. They lost their sense of mutual responsibility a long time ago. They only care about themselves. Which makes all their arguments about how much the Sabbath is desecrated, mutual responsibility and the efforts to ensure that Jews don't desecrate the Sabbath even more hypocritical. We, the secular, traditional and religious public of Jerusalem, are united in our demand that anyone who wants to live in our city can do so - haredi, secular, religious and Arab. That is true mutual responsibility. It is up to us to make it clear to the haredim that they can no longer decide for Israeli society what the public domain will look like. Finally, don't make the mistake of thinking that this is just an internal Jerusalem matter. Anything that takes place in Jerusalem is merely a preview of what will happen throughout the country in the coming years. Ultimately, only a consistent and unequivocal demand by us - the religious, traditional and secular population - for the right to decide about our public domain will allow all of us to live here. Keeping open a central parking garage located near the Old City of Jerusalem would be a good way to initiate this process. The author is a member of the Jerusalem City Council from the Wake Up Jerusalemites faction.


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