Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Jerusalem’s Ultra-Orthodox Jews Are Outraged By New Artificial Beach

Complaints have been lodged against the new temporary artificial beach built at Jerusalem’s First Station.

By: Daniel Koren

Published: June 17th, 2014 in News » Israel

Whether you live in North America, Africa, or the Middle East, most people that live in landlocked regions crave the sights and smells of the beach; the cool breeze, white sand under their feet, and the ability to take a refreshing dip when it gets too hot.

In Jerusalem this past weekend – a landlocked city located atop a mountain- residents were treated to the beach experience (albeit artificial) without having to travel to the coast. While many locals reveled in the experience, several ultra-Orthodox Jews became outraged.

A private company received a permit from the city to construct an artificial beach at the First Station, a restored train station complex with restaurants and other activities, that unlike most of the city, are open during Shabbat.

A number of ultra-Orthodox rabbis lodged a complaint with the Jerusalem city council stating that the fake beach, which consists of white sand, beach chairs, a lifeguard’s station, a watermelon stand, and a surfing simulator, will encourage unseemly behaviour and desecration of the Jewish Sabbath.

Yated Ne’eman, an ultra-Orthodox newspaper, published an article deeming the beach a “scandal” and accused the city of opening a huge complex “for Shabbat-violators and terrible deeds”.

Although a few ultra-Orthodox Jews are fighting to have the beach shut down, many more residents are enjoying it, including a large number of modern-Orthodox Jerusalem residents, such as Chava Gardner.

“I have no problem with the ‘beach’ here in Jerusalem, and maybe it will actually discourage some people from driving to Tel Aviv and breaking Shabbat in the process,” said Gardner.

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