It’s Friday, time yet again for another posting of Interesting Jewish Stories and Facts. Today we visit Israel and open up a can of worms.
There are about 13 million Jews in the world today. For all sorts of reasons, only about a third are affiliated with synagogues. That means that two-thirds of the people who identify as being Jewish know little about the religion, its ancient laws, rituals and beliefs.
Meshulam Nahari is one of the reasons many Jews have no desire to join the faithful. He’s the leader of Shas, a political party in Israel that represents the Heredim, the ultra-orthodox in the Jewish homeland. He’s a nut.
His nuttiness made headlines recently when he lashed out at Gilad Shalit (photo above) for spending time with his father at the beach. Nahari thinks Gilad, the Israeli soldier who was kidnapped and held by Palestinian terrorists for over five years, should have been in shul on the first Shabbat after his release by Hamas.
Gilad, like the vast majority of Israeli Jews, isn't religious. He wasn’t observant before he was kidnapped and apparently his years of captivity hasn’t turned him into a shokeling believer – trust me here if you’re not a Member of the Tribe; it’s a Jewish thing.
The absolute gall and complete lack of sensitivity by Nahari is just the sort of nonsense you’d expect from a fundamentalist wacko. But it gets worse – or better, depending on your sense of whimsy!
The minister without portfolio, who spoke during a Shas convention earlier this week, said that the party's spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, has charged him (Nahari) with the task of bringing Shalit closer to Judaism.
That’s a juicy bit of news I spotted on a blog recently and verified on an Israeli wire service, Ynet. I’m thinking Nahari, Rabbi Yosef and Shas have a little fence mending to do before they’re going to manage to show Gilad the light.
I’m also thinking that after spending five years in a hole, away from family and friends, suffering an assortment of physical and emotional problems, that God was smiling when he spotted Gilad with his dad at the beach.
Fundamentalists, no matter their religious affiliation, are convinced God only spends time in their particular house of worship, probably focused on their individual pew. They’re wrong and they’re sucking the spiritual life out of Judaism.
Here’s an idea. Just maybe Nahari and some of his followers ought to be spending more time on the beach. They might be surprised what they discover in the Synagogue of the great outdoors.