I find it interesting that the Chabadnikim (people who follow Chabad) are upset over the fact that they aren’t allowed to put pressure on kids to become more dati (orthodox).
I really do understand their upset. They see Jewish kids suffering a lackÂ of direction, and they want to provide that direction. They see Judaism as the answer to the broken homes and the angst that plagues Israeli youth (which, in fact, plagues ALL youth). They want young people to grow up to be dati, because THAT (in their mind) is the proper form of Judaism.
But, Israel has a law. That law states that adults are not allowed toÂ try and ‘proselytize’ kids under the age of 18.
When I was living in Gilo,Â I’d comeÂ home from church, have something to eat, sit back on my balcony, and read a book. Every Saturday. Like clockwork. I’m like that.
Also like clockwork, a bunch of kids would come out and playÂ directly underneath my balcony. They’d invariably get a bit rowdy, but they’re kids. It’s what kids do.
However,Â at one point, a new note was added to their play time. Chanting.Â
I didn’t think much of it. I was reading. It was a good book, as most of my books are, full of heroes andÂ rayguns and aliens and…Â Fun stuff.
But, this started happening EVERY Saturday.Â A bunch of kids chanting in unison can get a bit wearisome, but like I said. They’re kids. It’s just another thing that they do.
Then, one day, I was out looking for my cat, Fluffmeister. (He’s a cute little guy who has a new job chasing mice for a lovely young woman on a moshav out in the middle of beautiful nowhere.) Anyway,Â I noticed this Chabadnik, dressed up in black, walk by.Â Moments later, the kids started up with their Shabbat afternoon chanting.Â
I continued on about my business of looking for my wayward feline. (As usual, he was hanging out with the other neighborhood cats.) After discovering the Fluffmeister’s hideout, we hadÂ a discussion about whether he wanted to come in for lunch or not. He didn’t, so I meanderedÂ on home.
By this time, the chanting was finished, and as I passed byÂ the kids, I saw the Chabadnik guy passing out treats. It then dawned on me what was happening. This Chabbadnik guy was rewarding the kids for religious chanting.
I wondered if the kid’s parents knew this was happening. But, I didn’t see a great deal of harm in it, so I went back to my book (sans the Fluffmeister).
The problem was that I now knew that a Chabad missionary wasÂ bribing the kids to do their Shabbat chanting, which made it a bitÂ annoying. A few Shabbats later, I’d had enough andÂ went down while the treats were being dispensed and told the well-intentioned Chabbadnik that what he was doing was against the law.
You see, there are a number of laws in Israel that attempt to neutralize the effect of Christians in Israel. One of them statest that you are not allowed to ‘bribe’ children to obtain religious observance.
I actuallyÂ don’t mindÂ that particular law, and don’t see anything wrong with it. But, it annoyed me that a representative of the group RESPONSIBLE for the law was one of those violating it.
‘cuz if it’s good enough for the gander, it’s gotta be good for the goose.