Monday, March 05, 2012

Davening Dov Kramer

This past week's Mishpacha magazine had a flattering portrait of Dov Kramer who has worked for all sports radio WFAN for the past 25 years ago and is affectionately known to the hosts (and listeners) as Davening Dov Kramer behind the glass.

What is fascinating about this story is that the magazine was able to write a positive story about someone who works in a very non-traditional field (sports radio) and still call him Charedi. There is no doubt in my mind that this kind of story would never be written in the Hebrew Mishpacha and that there is no way that someone like Dov Kramer could do what he does in Israel. This illustrates the very big gap that exists between American Charedim and Israeli Charedim.

There is another important point here, religious tolerance. This story and the story of the Beren Academy illustrate the religious tolerance in America. Dov Kramer is the producer for the Mets games even though they play 2 games a week on Shabbos!!! His employers see that he can do the job well even given his religious limitations and are willing to accommodate him. In Israel there is no way that he would even be considered for such a job.

The question we need to answer is why?

YNet published a story about the Tapp league moving the game to Friday afternoon to accommodate Shabbos. Most of the comments made the point that this would never happen in Israel, it would be rejected as religious coercion.

IMHO, this is the big difference between Israel and America on these issues. In Israel, the secular population is worried about religious coercion, which already exists (no public transportation on Shabbos, weddings, divorce, etc.). Therefore, they see any further accommodation for religion as the beginning of a slippery slope which will end with a halachic state. The fact is according to a recent poll only a very small percentage (under %5) of the population is really anti-religious. However, the people do not want to be coerced into observing Judaism. The recent events with Mehadrin buses etc. have only made things worse. Now whatever little room for compromise is gone. In America on the other hand there is no religious coercion and no one is worried that an accommodation for Shabbos will lead to coercion therefore society is open to accommodation.

Religious coercion hasn't worked in Israel so maybe it is time to try a different approach without coercion.


bohr salino said...

There is another difference between Israeli and American reaction to the TAPP league game.
In Israel the charedim would heap scorn at the school for participating in a sport event influenced by Tarbut Yavan. In America they would see the mesirus nefesh of the school for Shabbos who was ready to forfeit the game and be eliminated after all the efforts and expectations of the players.

bluke said...

Good point. Sports in Israel are absolutely verboten in the Charedi world (which takes away a healthy outlet for boys) while they are at least tolerated in the Charedi world in America.

SF2K01 said...

Historically, America has been all about religious coercion, although eventually they have faded with time because Christians are not observance focused. Think of all the blue laws, some of which are still on the books.

America is a very religious country, but greatly emphasizes a respect for religions and religious people. Israel doesn't often emphasize respect for any other group, and everyone is jumping on everyone else, religious, political, or just in daily interaction. It's the negative culture that fosters in Israel that no one is willing to change which is really at the heart of the problem.