I am sorry, but Lynn, like many others,
just does not get it. It is not about inconvenience, or problematic marital laws, or food, or transportation, although all of these have varying degrees of importance. It is about freedom
Throughout our history, Jews have been forced to eat non-kosher meat and desecrate the Sabbath by their persecutors as a means of insulting both their persons and their religion. Many Jews have given their lives rather than do so. How many secular Jews would give their lives for the God given right to put real cream in their coffee at a restaurant? Not many, I expect.
There are several good reasons why we wanted a state of our own. First and foremost was to be able to defend our lives against people who wanted to see us dead. Second was the ability to defend ourselves against people who wanted to convert/humiliate us. Yes, this includes the freedom to eat/not eat specific foods. But the key word here is not "foods", it is "freedom".
We are Jews, and we are proud to be Jewish. But first of all, we are human beings. And all human beings deserve to be free. Those Jews, who were burned at the stake, rather than eat pork, chose
to do so. Yes, they chose their religion, but they also exercised their free will. They died as proud Jews, but moreover, they died as free people.
I'll repeat. I have absolute sympathy for the secular Jews in Israel whose lives are often turned upside down by the imposition of Orthodox rules and regulations. In a country where there's only one day off a week, how is a person without a car to accomplish anything in the absence of bus service, with most of the stores closed? Why should secular Jews be forced to observe Orthodox restrictions on marriage and divorce? Why shouldn't restaurants be permitted to serve non-kosher food without penalty if they wish to cater to non-religious clientele? These are problems that Israeli society should and will have to deal with.
I am sorry, but sympathy is not what we need. What we need is to allow all Israelis to live their lives according to their beliefs, and yes, secularism is a belief system.
Ramon made clear at every opportunity that he went to space, not simply as a citizen of the State of Israel, but as a Jew. As the representative of the Jewish people he recited kiddush on Friday night. As a Jew he said Shema Yisrael as the space shuttle orbited over Jerusalem. As a Jew he insisted on eating only kosher food in outer space.
Yes, and he chose to do so freely, without coercion.
In so doing he showed that there is no limit to what a person can accomplish as a Jew. He said to all Jews, here in Israel and throughout the world, even as anti-Semitism again threatens us, even as Jews in Israel are being murdered just for being Jews, our enemies will never define us or tell us there are limits to what we can do.
Precisely. And, Lynn, albeit inadvertently, stresses this very point herself:
Reciting kiddush on Friday night and eating kosher food are positive manifestations of Jewish identity, even though not all Jews choose to observe them. Col. Ramon chose to positively affirm these manifestations of his identity in front of the entire world, with great pride. In this, as in so many other things, I do hope others will follow his example (italics mine). Update:
OK, I had a feeling that the tone of this post was unnecessarily harsh, and now it was confirmed by a third party. So I'd like to apologize to Lynn, who is great, or to anyone else who's opinion is opposed to mine, and who felt personally offended. I am not into fighting my fellow Jews, no matter who they are, or what they think.