On the Shtibl

June 29, 2007

People who have little or no income often have to cut back on cultural activities. It’s a sad fact of life that those things which enrich the mind are commodities that can usually only be acquired with money: books, plays, concerts, CDs and digital music, as well as trips abroad cost money. A book in Israel costs 70 NIS, which is roughly four hours of minimum wage work. A movie costs 35 NIS excluding popcorn.

That’s why the shtibl is an amazing institution. All you need is a tiny room, and the people who frequent it each give as much as they can, with or without government and city aid, and it fills with benches and bookshelves. If you have a spare 15 minutes you can drop in there and sit down to enrich yourself. Once in a while there will be a speaker – sometimes every day. There is someone who makes it his business to keep tea in a backroom for whoever wants to come. And its all free.

I’m not going to gloss over the problems of the shtibl – the gender inequality, the haredi bent of the literature and speakers – but just think what an egalitarian-progressive shtibl could be like!

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Come and Get Me

June 24, 2007

There is talk of making this illegal, and the shabak has already said they’ll be tracking thoughts like this, so here:

אני מעוניין לשנות את אופייה היהודי של המדינה

אני הייתי רוצה שמדינת ישראל תהיה מדינת כל אזרחיה

It doesn’t really matter what my opinion is – I want to make sure it is impossible to track the thinkers and censor their thoughts. So I encourage you to write the above sentences on your blog, post them on websites, and email them to your friends. Tell big brother to shut up for once.