Bnei Brak, one of Israel's most religious areas, was quiet today, the first Sabbath after a ruling that a main thoroughfare, Rehov Hashomer, would remain closed to motor traffic on the Sabbath.
Bnei Brak, one of Israel's most religious areas, was quiet today, the first Sabbath after a ruling that a main thoroughfare, Rehov Hashomer, would remain closed to motor traffic on the Sabbath. The issue had led to physical clashes between the religious and the secular residents of the area in recent weeks. Police and border police units were out in force today to prevent any trouble. A group of secular residents had promised a motorcade through the barriers, but they gave in tamely after an argument with police. Bnei Brak was originally founded as a religious "township". In resent years, secular areas had grown up around its fringes. There was very little conflict between the two groups until the religious area began to spread and more and more road became closed on Shabbat ...the Jewish holy day. (actually from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday). The religious residents say that motor traffic is a desecration of the Sabbath. The secular inhabitants feel that the closure of Rehov Hashomer is the thin end of the wedge, and could lead to further restrictions which would leave them "trapped" in their homes on Shabbat...which is the only day off in Israel. There is no doubt that since the Likud election victory, and its subsequent alignment with two religious parties, many secular Jews feel their enjoyment of the holiday will be subject to renewed pressure.
(See enclosed cutting from Jerusalem Post on Bnei Brak).